August 20, 2012 – Atlanta, GA . . .Even a brooding sky and mid-afternoon thunderstorms couldn’t keep attendees from the August 17-19, 2012 edition of the semi-annual Atlanta Shoe Market. For as long as anyone can remember, the Atlanta market has been growing “like crazy,” according to one retailer, and more growth was evident again this past weekend with more than 900 exhibitors and over 1,800 lines tucked into every nook and cranny throughout Atlanta’s Cobb Galleria Centre, and another incredible increase of 20 percent in retailer pre-registration.
“All the lines are here,” commented Ron Jacobson, owner of Shoe Visions of Amelia Island, Fla. Over his more than 40 years in the business, Jacobson has attended all the industry shows, and until recently, all the major shows each season. “I used to go to other shows to see what’s out there, but everything’s here now. This is the only show I need now; I don’t need to go anywhere else.”
“I love this place,” offered Bealls’ Divisional Vice President Phil Winefordner, who has been coming to Atlanta to purchase his inventories for the past 10 years. “Everything’s under one roof, and so easy to work. No wonder it’s grown like crazy.”
Known industry-wide as “the buying show,” where retailers and manufacturers get down to business, The Atlanta Shoe Market continues to attract increasing numbers of retailers and exhibitors because of such convenience and ease, but also because it is easy to get to and inexpensive. Sponsor Southeastern Shoe Travelers Association, under the direction of show manager and association Executive Director Laura Conwell-O’Brien, continues to find new ways to keep those attributes front and center. To make it even more convenient for attending retailers, the show, in addition to the main hall, now offers special sections for categories including children’s, high fashion, and new this year, the Work Zone featuring exclusively work boots and shoes. And to keep the cost of attending low, Conwell-O’Brien started a daily lunch program for show participants that features an extensive spread of hot food for just five dollars.
The increased traffic had exhibitors as excited as the attending retailers. Kristi Paige Rockwell of Rockwell Tharp, based in Las Vegas and recently featured on NBC’s Today Show, was a first-time exhibitor, located in The Fashion Collection section. “We’ve added a lot of new accounts,” she said. “The flow of this place is perfect.”
The Atlanta Shoe Market is held twice a year in Atlanta, Ga., to feature fall and spring styles respectively. The show is sponsored by the Southeastern Shoe Travelers Association (SESTA), which was founded in 1942 and today counts more than 750 industry representatives as members.