Channeling David Letterman, The IR Show Co-director Gary Hauss, from the home office in Valencia, CA, fires off a Top 10 List of reasons to attend this month’s event in San Diego, (Jan. 28-30). Drumroll, please…
10. Location, Location, Location: The industry needs a large West Coast show, Hauss says. The fact that it’s (almost) always sunny and warm in San Diego is a bonus, especially when much of the country will be shivering. Add in a 10-minute cab ride from the airport to the convention center, and many downtown hotels and restaurants in walking distance to the show, and IR ’s setting is topnotch.
9. A Show for Retailers Run by Retailers: The IR Show is managed by people with extensive retail backgrounds. The management team has walked many a show formats over their years in cities around the world. They know what works and what doesn’t. “We possess the knowledge and experience to cater to buyers’ needs,” Hauss says. That includes an easy-to-shop layout, merchandised by category, and housed under one roof. “There’s no trudging from showroom to showroom amid whatever weather Mother Nature is dealing out that day, nor do attendees have to squeeze into dimly lit hotel rooms,” he says. “The layout is easy on the feet and efficient to shop.” Hauss adds, “The show’s glass structure setting makes for ideal lighting to showcase the collections.”
8. The Price is Right: IR Show is committed to keep expenses in check whenever possible for buyers and exhibitors. “Even though we are located in a state-of-the-art convention center, we maintain small show pricing, which includes affordable booth rates and lunch options,” Hauss says. “We also offer room blocks to help lower hotel costs.”
7. Social Networking: Whether it’s in the booths, walking the aisles, attending the party, dinners, or bumping into a fellow attendee in a hotel lobby, Hauss is a firm believer that being at IR is how many business relationships can get off the ground floor. “You have to be there to see and be seen,” he says. “And your best leads may come from the most unexpected source while attending the show, but it happened because you happened to be in the right place, at the right time.”
6. Quality Control: Size isn’t everything. The overall quality of a show’s attendance is what really matters—and that goes for exhibitors and buyers. Some shows are too sprawled out; no buyer with even the best of intentions could possibly cover it all effectively in two-and-a-half days. Buyers can’t see everything; they just need to see good product. Similarly, not every buyer necessarily makes the grade for exhibitors. Curation matters. “Vendors can meet with some of the top retailers from across the country and retailers can shop leading brands and the latest trends across multiple key categories,” Hauss says.
5. Party Time: Attendees are invited to The IR Show’s opening night party and “Conversations Over Cocktails.” Held adjacent to the show floor right after the day ends, Hauss will welcome Julia Gomez and Adam Beck of Beck’s Shoes for an engaging interview. In addition to delving into business-related strategies and hot button industry topics, the audience will get to know the management team leading the fifth family-generation owned, 20-plus store chain on a more personal level.
4. Free Snacks: Timed sporadically throughout the show, IR distributes popcorn, warm chocolate cookies, ice cream bars and hot coffee. Sometimes it’s the surprise treats that can help power you through a busy day of appointments and browsing.
3. Beyond Shoes: The Services Area is a dedicated section in the show for attendees to discover companies that offer ways to improve operations. It includes POS firms, shipping companies, digital marketing, and retail trade and charitable associations.
2. Getting Better: There’s always room for improvement. “We’re always utilizing our extensive industry relationships to brainstorm with exhibitors and retailers to gauge whether we are meeting expectations,” he says. “Anything that comes to suggestion that can improve upon the overall show experience, we’ll take into consideration right away.”
1. The IR Show Beats Zoom: If the pandemic taught the industry anything, there’s nothing like shopping the market in person. Communicating across a table, compared to an iffy internet connection, can’t be beat. “The IR Show enables retailers and brands to get to know each other on a personal level,” Hauss says. “Our industry goes beyond product—the people aspect is just as important.”