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COLUMBUS, OHIO — The 2010 ATA Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio, drew nearly 12 percent more attendees than a year ago, while nearly every exhibitor enjoyed increased order-writing. Both the increased traffic and business helped inspire optimism for the new year.
“The mood on the floor was the most upbeat I recall in the 10 years I’ve been with the ATA,” said Jay McAninch, ATA CEO/president. “More specifically, I was pleased to see that buying was brisk among retailers and buyers at our show and business was also strong at the two buying group shows featured at our event. All told, many exhibitors cited increases that — in some cases — amounted to double the business from the 2009 ATA Show, a very good show in its own right. Given the economy and the uncertainty about 2010, the 2010 ATA Show had a solid, memorable return to Columbus.”
The bowhunting industry’s largest and most inclusive show was held Jan. 13-15 — Wednesday through Friday — in the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The Trade Show floor featured 478 exhibitors, 25 more than in 2009. This total included 90 first-time exhibitors, as well as 24 start-up companies in the ATA’s new Innovation Zone. The exhibitors combined to rent 154,320 square feet of booth space, nearly 1,400 more square feet than 2009.
International attendance continued its upward trend as the Show saw a 51 percent increase in the number of international retail and distributor companies attending. The same was evident on the exhibiting side as international manufacturers interest in the U.S. market and the ATA Trade Show was up as well.
The stronger presence of exhibitor support staff attending the show could be viewed as an indication that the economy is stabilizing and the archery and bowhunting industry is cautiously optimistic about 2010. Exhibitors brought more staff members to the 2010 Show, a reversal from 2009 when many cut back on staffing to save travel expenses in the face of a weak economy. The ATA verified nearly 3,300 exhibitor staff members at the Show, about 650 more than attended in 2009. Exhibitors also rented a record 40 shooting lanes for the Show.
Doug Springer, president of Copper John Corp., said retailers visiting his booth wrote more orders for multiple models of sights and releases than they did at previous shows. “They were definitely writing deeper this year,” he said. “We more than doubled our sales from last year.”
Ben Summers, director of operations for T.R.U. Ball Releases and Excel Sights, estimated that Show sales for his company were 10 percent higher than in 2009. “This Show was excellent,” Summers, also an ATA Board member, said. “The first day we were busy, but the second day we were slam-packed. We stayed busy the third day until people started going home later in the day.”
Len Rezmer, executive vice president of Eastman Outdoors, said he struggled to squeeze in lunch during the show. “Our booth was busy right out of the blocks,” he said. “This was a very good order-writing show for us. We also wrote more orders for new dealers at this show than we have in a long time.”
Randy Phillips, owner and president of Arizona Rim Country Products and Archery Headquarters, attributed some of the success to the ATA’s Big Buck Tags coupons, which dealers could redeem with participating exhibitors. “I’d say at least a quarter to a third of our sales came from people walking in with their Big Buck Tags,” Phillips said. “That program drove more business to our booth than I anticipated.
We probably had our best Trade Show in 10 years,” said Phillips, who is also a member of the ATA Board of Directors. “Traffic through our booth was solid all three days of the Show.”
Among retailers who capitalized on Big Buck Tags was Bryan Partee, owner of Escape Outdoors in Mountain Home, Ark. “It was a benefit,” he said. “Any time you can save a few dollars it’s a benefit you can’t turn down.”
Partee emphasized that – coupons or not -- the ATA Trade Show generated savings. “I probably saved about 10 percent or more on every order I placed by being here,” he said. “If you place $50,000 worth of orders here, the manufacturers’ show discounts save you about $5,000. And that’s without Big Buck Tags.”
Buddy Poindexter of Poindexter Bait Inc., in Gallatin, Tenn., estimates he saved several hundred dollars with Big Buck Tags. He also considered the Show’s morning seminars a valuable feature of the Show.
“I don’t really see how a legitimate dealer cannot come to the show every year,” Ron Pelkey, owner of Pelkey’s Archery in St. Albans, Vt., said. “You have to stay on top of things and keep up with the new faces.”
McAninch said the ATA is now focusing on the Show’s return to Indianapolis, Jan. 6-8, 2011. “We’re excited about returning to Indianapolis -- the site of our show’s long-term success – and Indy’s revitalized downtown,” he said. “The Convention Center is connected to three new hotels, where we can offer rooms for less than $100 a night. The city is also packaging substantial discounts for convenient parking and restaurants. I think Indy has the potential to be another record show.”
Other news from the 2010 ATA Trade Show
-- Attendance at the ATA Academy -- the Trade Show’s morning seminar series – attracted 1,015 people during it three-day run. Attendance at Wednesday’s seminars hit 362, a record for Day 1 attendance.
-- Industry professionals came to Columbus from every state except Hawaii. Ohio topped the list with 820 attendees, and then it was Michigan, 628; Indiana, 406; Wisconsin, 393; and Illinois, 337.
-- ATA CEO/President Jay McAninch received the Muzzy Tall Man Award from the Muzzy Products Corp. Muzzy’s CEO, Michele Eichler, said McAninch’s vision and the comprehensive programs he established the past 10 years ensure the industry’s strength and continued growth. In accepting the award, McAninch gave the credit to his staff and the ATA’s Board of Directors.
About the ATA Trade Show: The ATA Trade Show is the archery and bowhunting industry’s largest and most inclusive show. The member-driven event promotes commerce within the industry, and is owned and operated by the ATA. As the only industry show that funds archery and bowhunting growth, the ATA invests in state agencies to coordinate introductory archery initiatives such as National Archery in the Schools Program and the After School Archery Program. To date, the ATA has invested and pledged nearly $1 million to bring archery shooting facilities and introductory programs to U.S. cities. Meanwhile, the ATA also fights for bowhunting rights in courtrooms across the country. The show is closed to the public and is an order-writing event.
About the ATA: Since 1953 ATA has been the trade association for manufacturers, retailers, distributors, sales representatives and others working in the archery and bowhunting industry. ATA is dedicated to making the industry profitable by decreasing business overhead, and reducing taxes and government regulation while increasing participation in archery and bowhunting. ATA owns and manages the ATA Trade Show, the archery and bowhunting industry’s largest and longest running trade show worldwide.