1.28.09 | ATA Show Conquers Economic Fears
Archery dealers and exhibitors defied a gloomy worldwide economy by converging on the 2009 ATA Trade Show in Indianapolis and writing strong orders during the Jan. 8-10 event at the Indiana Convention Center.
Total attendance for the three-day show hit 7,331 industry professionals, including 2,690 archery dealers and 205 distributors, who were there to conduct business with 453 exhibiting companies. The 2,690 dealers represented 986 individual stores, only 43 fewer than the ATA-record 1,029 stores represented at the 2008 Trade Show. In comparison, store attendance was 1,016 at the 2005 show in Indy, and 836 and 791 in 2006 and 2007, respectively, at Atlanta.
Further, the 453 exhibitors rented 152,950 square feet of booth space, creating the third largest floor in the Trade Show’s history. The 2008 Trade Show, also in Indianapolis, holds the record for booth rentals with 159,350 square feet, and the 2006 Trade Show in Atlanta set a record with 499 exhibitors.
“We were very happy to be back in Indianapolis for a second straight year,” said Cindy Brophy, manager of the ATA Trade Show. “Those numbers confirmed that Indy lies at the heart of the archery and bowhunting world. Naturally, we were nervous going into the show, wondering how our dealer base would respond to the economic climate. But when we opened the registration desk Thursday morning (Jan. 8), we were swamped. We knew we would have a great show when our ‘walk-up’ numbers the first day included 435 dealers, buyers and distributors. These were people who hadn’t pre-registered. Walk-up numbers like those are very impressive. ”
Jay McAninch, ATA president and CEO, said this year’s numbers look even stronger when considering the economy, unemployment figures, and the unprecedented credit, insurance and banking problems that have recently been discovered. “When we saw those anxious dealers rolling onto the show floor, it was easy to forget that the nation’s economy has been weak and consumer confidence low the past 18 months,” he said. “Not only that, but despite some travel problems by air and road we still had near record attendance by dealers, buyers and distributors. Once again, archery and bowhunting have proven to be very resilient, even during tough times when many sectors of the economy lack the confidence and strong relationships we have in our industry. Frankly, I think the energy and enthusiasm of our industry comes from the knowledge that the ATA Trade Show is the most time- and cost-efficient way to get the greatest deals on archery and bowhunting gear as well as network with everyone who is anyone in the industry.”
Peter Crawford, ATA Board chair and president of Elite Outdoors, said the mood at the 2009 show was exceptional. “Every dealer and manufacturer I’ve talked to was really, really pleased with the show,” Crawford said. “And we had the right people there. They came to Indy to buy a lot of stuff. They weren’t a bunch of tire kickers.”
Crawford felt optimism everywhere he looked. “I thought the mood was very positive right from the beginning,” he said. “It started with Wednesday’s ARRO Show and continued through Outtech’s Innovation party that night. In spite of the gloom and doom on the news, everyone was positive. They kept their upbeat spirit throughout the ATA Show.”
Crawford said many important factors make the ATA Trade Show a big industry attraction. By combining business and entertainment through seminars, The Real Deal, Dealer Bucks drawings, Featured Products, the Great ATA Giveaway, and musical entertainment from Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, the Trade Show has become a can’t-miss destination for many people.
Kurt Bassuener of Mike Wieck Sales and ATA Trade Show Committee Chair said, “Overall the ATA show was very good for the companies I represent. It seemed like we had the right buyers there. The body count was down a bit, but the people with the buying power were the ones at the show. I believe the actual shop owners brought fewer employees with them. Most dealers I talked to are actually optimistic about 2009. We on the ATA Board are really pleased and I’m looking forward to getting the trade show committee ready to get to work right away on the 2010 show.”
Onto Columbus in 2010
The 2010 ATA Trade Show will visit Columbus, Ohio, about 170 miles east of Indianapolis on Interstate 70. The 2010 show will mark the return of ATA to Columbus after an absence of more than 10 years. “We’re excited to bring our industry to Columbus,” said McAninch. “We are anxious for everyone to see the significant changes the city has made to the convention center, the improved number and quality of hotels and the increase in great eating establishments that are wall-to-wall in the surrounding area.”
“Our research shows 40 percent of our dealers live within 400 miles of Columbus and Indy,” Brophy said. “Because almost half of our dealers drive to the show, it’s important to keep the show within reasonable driving distance”
What They’re Saying …
What we heard when we asked manufacturers about business at the 2009 ATA Trade Show:
Blake Shelby, PSE: “Indianapolis always seems to be good. The show’s first day was a little slow for us, but then it exploded. We had a really, really good show. I was very happy. Nothing pulls like Indianapolis. Traffic was really good in our booth. We also had some incredible product introductions that generated a lot of buzz. Our shooting lanes were really busy the entire show. We couldn’t have been happier.”
Dave Robb, TenPoint Crossbow Technologies: “The ATA Show was very good for us. We had more orders this year than ever. That got our season off to a fantastic start; way better than the start we had last year. We think crossbows will be an awesome business opportunity in 2009; not just for us, but for all crossbow manufacturers.”
Bob Ransom, Ameristep: “The ATA Show was fantastic for Ameristep. We don’t gauge the success of our shows by the amount of traffic that comes through our booth. We gauge it by the quality of the traffic. The dealers and customers we saw at that show was normal, and normal for Ameristep is fantastic. This year’s show was every bit as good as any previous year.”
Ray Lynch, Realtree: “We’ve always loved the ATA show, and we also love Indianapolis. There’s always good turnout at Indy. It seemed like traffic was off a little bit, but guess what? Everybody I talked to said they had their best show. We nearly tripled our orders this year in our small-clothing line, and many of our licensees had a great show. Some said they were even busier the last day than the first day.”
Alan Lotton, LimbSavers: “We felt like the traffic might have been a little lighter, but in looking at the orders we wrote, we were up. The ATA Show gave us the ability to show our products. The ATA did a heck of a job. The show was well-managed, the shooting lanes were phenomenal, and we had a lot of traffic there. The ATA did a great job with the layout. Very professional. Good signage. Well-organized. I wasn’t saturated as much on the media-selling side during the show, which gave me more opportunity to work with sales and promotions. It was a good mix.”
Jimmy Primos, Primos Hunting Calls: “The 2009 ATA Show was the best we’ve ever had. We were real concerned going into the show. We weren’t sure the dealers would support it, but they showed up in big numbers and were there to do business. We had an all-time record order-writing show. Hopefully the worst is behind us in the economy.”
Mark Garcia, Tru-Glo: “We were extremely busy the whole time. It was a good show. The dealers who were there had good sell-through in 2008, and they came to Indy to buy. That’s the main thing. Our order-writing was up over the previous year. A bowhunter is going to hunt. He might not buy that new truck or plasma TV, but he’s going to hunt, especially if he hunts near home.”
Jay Engstrom, River’s Edge Treestands: “I was pleasantly surprised at the ATA Show. I went not knowing if the buyers would be there and, if they were there, would they be buying? Most dealers I talked to were in pretty good shape on inventory, and that’s always a good indicator for the coming year. Is it business as usual? No, but it’s still a lot stronger than the media is making it out to be. The archery portion of the economy looks pretty solid going into this year.”
Mike Houllis, Barnett Crossbows: “The ATA Show was fantastic. The show’s quality is always good, but this year it was particularly good. We had a large increase in booth visits.”
Katherine Troubridge, Excalibur Crossbows: “This was the first time we wrote substantial orders at the ATA Show. In the past, because our business is basically distributor-based, the orders didn’t come from distributors at the show. But this year, because of the potentially new seasons opening for crossbows in the United States, some of the larger dealers want to buy direct from Excalibur. It was very exciting for us.”
Phyllis Schilling, Buck Stop Lure Co.: “We thought the show was fantastic. Traffic was up in our booth, we had an upbeat crowd, and we’re looking forward to 2009 because the orders are up and the overall buzz of the show was fantastic. The dealers we’re talking to are looking forward to new, younger customers coming into archery. The dealers just have a more upbeat attitude about expectations than some might expect.”
Dean Reagan, Wild Game Innovations: “We had a successful show. Our sales were up slightly from 2008. It seemed attendance was lower than last year, but the quality of people was great. They were serious about the show. They weren’t just lookers. Our meetings were very good. People seemed to be upbeat. We write a lot of orders at the ATA Show, and every year we get more and more orders because people are used to writing there.”
Pete Crawford, Elite Outdoors: “I don’t know how any company can afford to miss the ATA Show,” he said. “The ATA Show was critical for the exposure and growth of Elite Outdoors. There’s no way we could have reached the 300 important dealers we met there. It’s such a cost-effective way to do business. Imagine trying to drive to each one of those dealers to show your product at their place of business. That just doesn’t work. Our new dealer applications, and the number of orders we’ve gotten on the books, were all records for a company that’s essentially only three years old,” Crawford continued. “We’ve set sales records and blown away everything they had done before. And the only thing we’ve really done so far is attend the ATA show. It was unreal.”
Did You Know?
The ATA provided $40,000 to fund marketing research conducted by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, which used prize drawings to persuade bowhunters to purchase more antlerless deer permits.