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Shoesday Tuesdays: David Kahan on the New WSA Show

Footwear Plus Shoesday Tuesdays: David Kahan on the New WSA Show

Footwear Plus Shoesday Tuesdays: David Kahan on the New WSA Show

Footwear Plus MagazineShoesday Tuesdays - Sponsored by WSA  
David Kahan

David Kahan, president of the ENK Footwear Group, operators of the WSA show, discusses what’s on tap for the Feb. 7, 8, 9 edition in Las Vegas, including a Super Bowl bash, Smart car giveaway, industry party at Tao, interactive floor plan and a comprehensive and powerful list of exhibitors all merchandised under one roof at the Sands Expo & Convention Center.

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What can we expect to be different about the upcoming WSA show?

Just about everything. Our objective is to re-energize the show. The look, feel and energy will all be different. We are creating a viable footwear community; everything we are doing is dedicated to serving our attendees with the best possible show experience.

Any specifics?

First off, exhibitors often talk about the return on investment of a trade show, and for some the cost of massive booths has become prohibitive. For them, we are offering fully inclusive turnkey booth set-ups. They are the most cost-effective means for brands to be on our show floor. All it takes is writing a few orders to literally cover the expense. But we also understand that some exhibitors don’t prefer the turnkey-only booth floor plan, which is the only choice offered at some other shows. That’s why WSA will present a hybrid environment, where exhibitors can set up their own booths if they desire. Plus, we will merchandise the floor plan in a way that flows nicely, ensuring one booth format will not overwhelm the other. If there is one thing our parent company, ENK International, is known for with respect to its ready-to-wear shows, it is well-merchandised show floors with a good flow of products.

For example, everyone has been talking about the emerging wellness category. So we will present an “Oasis for Wellness” in the middle of the show floor—an interactive area designed to illustrate the lifestyle of this consumer. It will encompass five elements of this consumer mind set: exercise, relaxation/rejuvenation, education, nourishment and style. We’ve partnered with 24 Hour Fitness, the leading Health Club chain in the U.S., to show exercise choices and demonstrate the features and benefits of wellness footwear. In addition, Canyon Ranch will participate with express services solely for our attendees and New Balance will be our exclusive footwear and apparel partner in this space, highlighted by a pop-up shop showcasing its latest styles. It’s the first time a footwear trade show will feature a truly interactive space dedicated to this rapidly growing category.

Also, we will be introducing Sole Commerce @WSA. For a decade, this boutique-driven show has been a successful component of ENK’s bi-annual Fashion Coterie ready-to-wear show in New York. This will allow our exhibitors the opportunity to present their lines to dedicated footwear retailers that would normally not shop an apparel show.


Any special events planned in conjunction with the show?

Since the day before the show is Super Bowl Sunday, WSA, will hold a dynamite party, in partnership with the National Shoe Retailers Association (NSRA), who is holding its 35th Semi-Annual Educational Conference earlier that day. The festivities, beginning at 2 p.m., will take place at the V Bar in The Venetian Hotel, which is conveniently located adjacent to the Sands Expo. V bar is a cool place for everyone to gather and watch the game. There will be plenty of food, snacks and drinks, and we’ll have some fun surprises as well. I can’t think of a better way to watch the big game in Vegas alongside friends and industry colleagues. You can register for the NSRA conference here.

TAO Nightclub

In addition, our Industry Event will take place at TAO nightclub on the opening night of the show, Feb. 7. The party starts at the close of the show (6 p.m.) and goes until 8 p.m. It will be a great party with plenty of fine food and drinks and—drum roll please—the details of a Smart car giveaway will be revealed.

Beyond parties and car giveaways, what do you believe retailers will find most useful about attending WSA?

First off, the timing of all our shows falls right in the middle of seasonal order writing timelines so that retailers can shop the show and then actually get product for the first seasonal delivery. With timeline issues increasingly pressuring the manufacturing cycle, we believe our dates are more advantageous for both retailers and suppliers. Second, from a time management standpoint, a retailer can efficiently shop the broad footwear market all in one place, under one roof. Retailers have told us time and again that this is of primary importance when shopping a trade show. Lastly, this is the ideal setting for retailers and wholesalers to come together as a community. The easy-to-navigate floor plan and broad spectrum of exhibiting brands enables retailers to get a read on the entire footwear market. In addition, the importance of retailers meeting face-to-face with the senior management of their wholesale partners to discuss business and share ideas can’t be overlooked. And hopefully retailers will also find a new emerging brand or two that can become a star the following season. That’s what “shopping a show” is really all about. I’ve had multiple retailers tell me that some of their best selling brands this holiday season were ones they “found” at a WSA show a few seasons back.

Over the last few weeks of 2010, many leading brands have made a commitment to attend WSA, including Mephisto, Rockport, Dansko, New Balance, H.H. Brown, Skechers and Steve Madden. It’s a list that is growing daily. In addition, the list of retailers planning to shop our show is growing as well. The NSRA will have a large contingent and many other retailers of all tiers are hearing our re-energized message and making the decision to come to Vegas. We look forward to seeing everyone this February 7, 8, 9 and again in July 27, 28, 29 as we make WSA the leading footwear event in the industry.

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