Surf Expo 2014
I was able to attend Surf Expo 2014, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida September 4-6. The industry tradeshow draws buyers from specialty stores across the U.S. and the Caribbean, and even as far as Australia. Florida-based businesses accounted for only 250 of the exhibiting companies attending the September edition of the biannual event. The show featured approximately 2,600 booths of apparel, footwear and sporting goods for the outdoor sports lifestyle. Average buyer and exhibitor turnout exceeded 26,000 attendees per show including retailers, exhibitors and media.
Surf Expo is the longest running and largest boardsports and beach/resort lifestyle tradeshow in the world. The boardsports category includes surf, skate, wakeboard and waterski, kiteboard and windsurf, and stand up paddle. The beach/resort lifestyle category includes resort fashion, footwear and swimwear. The show happens every January and September to coincide with new product releases. Surf Expo also features special events with celebrity guests, and fashion shows highlighting exhibitor’s merchandise.
The crowd at Surf Expo 2014 was positive and energetic, and it was normal to see folks making their way through the aisles on skateboards, some with small motors attached. Products featured ranged from those endorsed by Soul Surfer star Bethany Hamilton and those featured on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank, to products attempting to make their first U.S. debut, such as Australia’s toxin-free nail polish Sambora.
Everyone I spoke with agreed that Surf Expo has grown over the past few years in the attendance of both exhibitors and industry buyers. Exhibitors were feeling positive about sales, and attendees were continually amazed by the new products being introduced. After meeting the adorable and sweet Bethany Hamilton, watching a swimwear runway fashion show and having a blast testing my stand up paddle boarding skills, I’m already making plans to attend the next Surf Expo scheduled for January 8-10, 2015.