Despite the shaky retail environment, The Atlanta Shoe Market remained a reliable source for retailers to shop the market this past weekend. Once again, the Cobb Galleria Centre was maxed out with more than 1,800 lines of footwear, accessories and handbags across women’s, men’s and kids’ categories, reports Laura Conwell-O’Brien, executive director. “The Atlanta Shoe Market has become an important show for our exhibiting companies as this is the show where orders are written,” she says.
While Conwell-O’Brien reports that buyer attendance was off three percent, she is confidant that the industry is trending upward again following a tough couple of years that forced many retailers to the sidelines. The business landscape just might look a little different, but those retailers still in the game need to shop the market and buy shoes. “Buyers are finding their way in how to do business in this ‘new world’ of retail,” she says, adding that trade shows remain a key part of the equation. “Our show saves time as buyers can see everyone they need to see in a three-day period and under one roof, rather than reps taking their time when they are working in their stores. It’s a win-win for both sides.”
To that end, Conwell-O’Brien remains focused on making the show as buyer- and exhibitor-friendly as possible. As the industry’s only non-profit, association-sponsored show (sponsored by the Southeastern Shoe Travelers Association), she says doing what’s best for the industry is paramount. “I try and keep the hotel costs down, provide great $5 lunches and an ‘over-the-top’ cocktail party,” Conwell-O’Brien says. A retail education seminar was also held for attendees. “Everyone likes that the show is easy to shop and under one roof,” she adds. “There was a great energy, and everyone left on a high note.”