Entering its third year in the trade show business, the Apparel Sourcing Association Pavilion (ASAP) Global Sourcing Show at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel faced adverse conditions this past February. Snowstorms along the East Coast closed airports, canceling travel plans and reportedly dashing the show's attendance figures 14.2 percent from last August.
On another front, ASAP watched as trade show neighbor, MAGIC, launched a competitive sourcing show of its own, The Sourcing Zone, located in the adjacent convention center. "We're calling it a soft launch," said Woodland Hills, CA-based MAGIC media relations director Ernae Mothershed, who noted that response to the inaugural Sourcing Zone was very positive. "Our official launch will be in August. It will be a larger show, and we will market the [new sourcing] area more aggressively."
Both shows strive to create a convenient, cost-effective "global village" of strategic, turn-key sourcing options for apparel retailers, licensees and name brand designers.
"[MAGIC] is in a catch-22 situation," said Frank Yuan, founder and CEO of Pasadena, CA-based Cyber Merchants Exchange (C-Me), which produces ASAP. "Two years ago, when I started the sourcing show, I proposed a venture-to-venture partnership [with MAGIC to create a sourcing show together]."
After a couple of intense meetings with MAGIC's executive management, interest in the venture declined, Yuan said. "They felt if the sourcing got too strong, it would hurt their core business since most of their exhibitors [source] overseas and resell in the United States," said Yuan. "On the one hand, I'm pleased they realized that sourcing is a growth area."
George Dennis, owner of Orange, CA-based Off The Hook, and a two-time attendee of the ASAP sourcing event, said the show has helped him get his business off the ground. "Six months ago, I was a total newbie," said Dennis. "I was manufacturing domestically, and basically they helped me make my marginal business profitable."
In addition to attending the ASAP show, Dennis said he regularly meets with the C-Me staff in Pasadena. "For a small surcharge, they will source anything for me," he noted.
Julie Taylor Powers, apparel sourcing manager for Grand Rapids, MI-based One Stop Imprintable Fashions, and a first-time attendee of the ASAP show, said: "I'm really hoping the match-making session gives me what I need."
Match-making sessions are meetings pre-arranged by the ASAP show staff at the request of pre-qualified U.S. apparel buyers for introduction to offshore manufacturers. The sessions have been extremely popular with attendees, said Yuan, who noted that the next ASAP show in August will feature an increased number of match-making sessions and more flexible scheduling options.