13226 Thu, 12/06/2007 - 12:46pm
By Allison Zisko
NEW YORK-- In response to the majority of survey respondents who favor trade shows on weekdays, permanent showroom buildings 41 Madison and 7 W New York have changed the dates of the 2008 shows to run in a Wednesday through Sunday format.
The shift moves the preshow and the busiest days of the show to the beginning of the week. The former date pattern was Saturday through Wednesday.
One of the motives behind the change was to mitigate costs for vendors who house large sales staffs for the duration of the show. The change gives them the option of utilizing a local sales force on the waning days of the event, according to show organizers.
Retail attendance patterns were also a significant factor behind the decision, they said.
A Wednesday through Sunday schedule pleases big buying groups but maintains Saturday and Sunday for independent retailers. Although the survey, which polled 41 Madison tenants and retailers last summer, was heavily weighted in favor of weekdays, a "significant contingent" argued for preserving weekend show dates, said Carole Dixon, director of 41 Madison. She acknowledged that the new date format runs the risk of dark showrooms on Sunday.
"This is not something we're enthusiastic about or think is great, but we're trying to serve people's needs," Dixon told HFN. Chris Collins, vice president, general manager of 7 W, has pledged full support.
An informal poll of vendors and retailers at the tabletop show last week revealed that most industry members like the new date format.
"I love it," said Mark Fisher, president of Godinger. Godinger is closed on Saturdays for religious reasons, but the new time frame would not hinder business at all, he said.
The market date change "doesn't make a big change; we're always here for more than one week anyway," said Miroslav Panacek, sales and marketing director of Krosno SA. "It's better for the show; it's less and less active during the weekend. It's a good step and it makes sense. After people have been working hard all week and then have to go to the show, that's not always possible."
Hilary Donahue, vice president and general merchandising for specialty store Michael C. Fina, gave the move two thumbs up. 'I think it's ridiculous that we have market on weekends," she said. "I don't go. I think the industry should stop doing it."
Godinger and Michael C. Fina are both based in New York. Attendees from other parts of the country may feel differently.
Tom Blumenthal, chief executive officer of Gearys Beverly Hills, said he likes to attend the show on weekends, though he was already in New York the week before the show and started visiting showrooms on Friday.
"This started with New York merchants who didn't want to give up their weekends," Blumenthal said, "but frankly, this is not a regional show, it is a national one."
Retail is about working when you need to work, not when you want to, he added.
As a retailer, Blumenthal said he tries hard to value every one of his customers, regardless of how much money they spend in his store. Tabletop vendors should consider the same practice, he said. "I think the independents are being forgotten."
The date change will not keep him away, however. "We're going to go to the show no matter what," Blumenthal added.
The dates for 2008 are as follows: April 9 to 13 and Oct. 15 to 19. Dates for 2009 will be determined based on the results from this trial date change.
-- Andrea Lillo contributed to this report.