Having been involved in the action sports industry for the better part of a decade, I have somehow managed to not once attend the industry’s largest trade show, ASR (Action Sports Retailer). With an exciting new business venture about to get underway, the time was now to attend what was once an action sports retailer expo and is now an action sports extravaganza of epic proportions.
Besides nearly an infinite amount of retail booths showcasing all kinds of surf, skate and snow clothing, accessories, gift items, hard goods, soft goods, books, art, beverages, books, etc., ASR parades an endless amount of models that show an incredible amount of skin. It amazes me that business gets done in this atmosphere, yet the environment somehow fails to distract from the bottom line. ASR also attracts some of the world’s top action sports athletes. I was able to grab an interview with the world’s number one surfer, Jordy Smith, who was hanging out in front of Rusty’s booth downing cold ones.
Here are some of the other highlights from my visit to ASR:
– I have heavily criticized Scott Bass over the years for his boring radio show and terrible surf stories. I have to give him credit though for his Sacred Craft trade show, which was held upstairs from ASR. Unlike ASR, which is created entirely for retail businesses and media members, Sacred Craft allows the public entrance for $10.
Inside you’ll find a wide array of different surfboard shapers, in addition to a variety of different booths selling items from surf wax to books. Jeff Clark, whose booth was always the most crowded with fans checking out Jeff Clark Surfboards and asking for autographs, took some time out to join in on a Tarp Surfing session which attracted a large number of new fans.
– I also ran into Rey Banatao at Sacred Craft, who owns and operates Entropy Sports with his brother Desi Banatao. For years I’ve been stumped by the lack of enthusiasm the surf industry has shown towards Entropy Surfboards, the most bio-friendly sticks in the market. Fortunately people are starting to pick up on their patented technology, as a few different booths displayed the bio-friendly resin designed and developed by Entropy Sports. Rey also displayed one of their newest Stand Up Paddleboards, a beauty. You’ll be seeing these boards on display and for sale at the soon-to-be-opening SF Surf Co.
– One of the more random sightings was NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton sitting at a booth promoting his new non-profit organization, SDSI (San Diego Sport Innovators). His assistants had a hard time explaining what they do. Their flyer says they are “a business accelerator that connects and drives the growth of San Diego’s vibrant sports economy by offering innovative programs and services for start-ups, mature companies and service providers.” Walton didn’t exactly look like he was thrilled to be there, and when I talked to him he showed very little interest in chatting, although he was nice enough to take a picture with me. Check out their website to get a better feel for the program.
– Kenny “Skindog” Collins and his Volcom crew were the liveliest of the bunch, throwing a rave-themed party at the Volcom booth, which was situated next to a massive skateboarding half-pipe.
Despite being a manic, clustered scene, my first impression of ASR was impressive. The next edition takes place in early 2011.