OFFPRICE Boasts Largest Square Footage in 20-year History
A strong market for discount apparel and accessories, as well as a growing manufacturer confidence were among the driving forces at the OFFPRICE trade show Feb. 16-19 at the Sand Convention and Expo Center in Las Vegas.
Owned by U.K.-based Tarsus Group, OFFPRICE was part of the Las Vegas's biannual Fashion Week, which spread over several venues, including the Las Vegas Convention Center and Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.
At 132,000 net square feet, this winter edition was the largest in the show's history. The Cash & Carry section was moved into its own two ballrooms and is projected to take over a third one in the future. The main floor now sports a dedicated footwear pavilion and also has room to add new exhibitors in the future. Overall, the show connected about 525 exhibitors and 8,000 retailers.
To help drive traffic to the new Cash & Carry section, the show launched a scarf promotion, where attendees received a fashionable orange scarf for visiting and got a gift card if the staff spotted them wearing their scarves around the Sands.
"We've had a very good show," said Stephen Krogulski, CEO of OFFPRICE. "Compared to the past couple of years, there's optimism that manufacturers are being bit more adventuresome and trying new products."
Referring to the Modern Assembly collection of trade shows running alongside with OFFPRICE and Magic, he said, "The shows upstairs are introducing things that are a little out there, but in couple of years might catch on."
The hope is that manufacturers starting to take risks again will continue to fuel the growth of OFFPRICE and provide new opportunities for closeouts.
"Even in lean manufacturing, betting on that hot item and on economies of scale isn't going away," Krogulski said. "At the same time, buyers know that there's a scarcity of those closeout products. By its nature it creates a vibrant marketplace."
On the showfloor, buyers were looking for basics, as well as fun steals to liven up their stores. "We're shopping inexpensive summer dresses for our beach-themed stores in Wisconsin," said Paul Pappas a buyer with Christines. "You can order them off a catalogue, but here you can see and touch." Pappas noted that his budget was up about 20 percent for this show.
Touch and feel was also the motto at the Division Six Sports exhibit, at 100 sq. ft., the largest footprint the company had in recent years. "We have an elaborate online system which offers an efficient way to show inventory online," said exhibitor Phil McCaskey," but when you put the product in front of a buyer, that's when orders get written."
McCaskey commented that due to adverse weather, business has been off this winter. Yet, he is optimistic about the coming months. "Retailers rely on us for basics, for a uniform of a casual person," he said. "That's not going anywhere."