Atlanta Shoe Market Thinks on Its Feet During Weather Challenges

February 19, 2014

Ice storms, clogged highways, a closed airport and all around chaotic weather last week in Atlanta didn’t stop people from making their way to the biannual Atlanta Shoe Market, held Feb. 13-15 event at the Cobb Galleria.

In order to accommodate the approaching weather situation and getting buyers on the floor despite it all, the Cobb Galleria and Southeastern Shoe Travelers Association, who have co-hosted the event for 19 years, opened the doors three days prior to the show opening to accommodate early arrivals, including buyers from Belk, Tops and many others.

Exhibitors reported spending as much as five days fending off cancellations and hopping flights to get to Atlanta from as far away as California, according to event organizers.

“Others braved the hazardous road conditions, including people from states like Kentucky where drives were two days directly into and through the path of the storm,” they added.

At Cobb Galleria, some employees were unable to make it into work, so others stepped, including management, to pick up the slack.

The center also stayed open day and night to accommodate the needs of the show. In addition, show management was onsite around the clock to respond to attendee and exhibitor calls and e-mails and provide updates twice daily to all pre-registered attendees and exhibitors on everything from weather conditions to transportation issues to rescheduled show events.

“Exhibitors and retailers alike did whatever it took to get here, because it was important to them and the businesses they represent,” said Laura Conwell-O’Brien, SEST executive director.

She added, “I never cease to be amazed by the people in this industry.  This wasn’t the way we expected to mark our 70th anniversary, but perhaps it was testimony to why the show has been around all these years.”

By the close of the show, only a handful of vendors were unable to make it, mostly from other hard-hit areas like the Northeast, where flight cancellations kept people grounded.

Even with the challenges, the latest industry survey of trade show attendees ranks The Atlanta Shoe Market among the top three fashion shows worldwide, according to SEST management.

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