Year in Review: The Year in Trade Shows


Jeff Staple at Agenda

For San Juan Capistrano, Calif.–based trade-show producer Emerald Expositions, 2017 was an eventful year. The company issued an initial public offering in April, raising more than $264 million, and then turned around and acquired the SIA Snow Show for $16.4 million the next month. Emerald announced plans to colocate the SIA show with Outdoor Retailer beginning in January 2018, when Outdoor Retailer relocates to Denver. OR’s move was also a big announcement for Emerald. After 20 years in Salt Lake City, the show announced plans to move after several exhibitors pulled out of the show in protest over Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s position on public lands.

Emerald also hosted its first Swim Collective and Active Collective shows after acquiring the sister trade shows last year. This was the year that Active Collective expanded to host its first New York show in January. Emerald also announced plans to move Swim Collective and Active Collective from Huntington Beach, Calif., to a colocated space at the Anaheim Convention Center beginning next year. And Emerald’s Surf Expo show in Florida also had a newsworthy year. After drawing an international mix of buyers from across the Caribbean and South America as well as a handful from Europe and Japan in addition to core surf and swim stores such as Jack’s Surfboards, Surf Diva, Sun Diego, Hansen’s and Ron Jon in January, Surf Expo found itself in the path of Hurricane Irma in September, forcing the trade show to cut back its three-day format to one day. Weather also played a role in Emerald’s Imprinted Sportswear Show in January, which drew 14,000 attendees to the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif., despite a series of powerful rainstorms that battered Southern California.

After 14 years of restricting admittance to members of the apparel trade, Los Angeles–based Agenda opened its doors to consumers with the launch of Agenda Festival in July. The one-day event, held after a two-day wholesale-business Agenda show, drew 15,000 attendees, who shopped among more than 500 booths and took in hip-hop performances by Tyler, the Creator and Ludacris at the Long Beach Convention Center. Agenda also hosted its second ComplexCon, another consumer-oriented festival of music, art and retail launched last year by Agenda founder Aaron Levant, ReedPop and media platform Complex. An estimated 25,000 people bought tickets for the first ComplexCon. The second event, held in November, drew twice as many attendees and brought in more than $20 million for exhibitors.