END TO AGENDA FESTIVAL
Reed Exhibitions Shelves Agenda Festival
After a two-year run, the consumer show Agenda Festival was canceled by its producer, ReedPop, a division of Reed Exhibitions.
The festival made its debut in Long Beach, Calif., in 2017 following the Agenda trade show held at the Long Beach Convention Center.
The festival made a splash because it was the first consumer-day event produced by a prominent trade show. It was seen as a way for trade-show exhibitors to make extra money after the wholesale-focused trade show wrapped up.
The Agenda Festival continued to run in 2018 even after Agenda canceled its Long Beach trade show last year. Agenda continues to produce trade shows in Las Vegas, with the next event scheduled for Aug. 12–14 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
Rob Weinstein, the marketing vice president of ReedPop West, said the Agenda Festival’s pop-up market, which featured music and food trucks, remained popular with consumers. They bought tickets starting at $45 for the 2017 run of the Agenda Festival to get exclusive looks at new and one-of-a-kind garments and footwear from more than 500 athletic, action-sports and streetwear brands. In 2018, more than 15,000 tickets were sold for the event.
Reed was on track to sell the same number of tickets for the upcoming Agenda Festival June 28–29. However, interest was flagging from vendors, Weinstein said, and Reed didn’t think it could produce a festival on par with last year’s festival.
“Therefore, a decision to cancel was made before any tickets were put on sale,” Weinstein wrote in an email. “Ultimately we opted to cancel the event rather than deliver one that is less than a world-class experience for both brands and attendees.”
Reed is still bullish about the business model of mixing a fan convention with pop-up shops, which inspired the Agenda Festival. A similar Reed event, ComplexCon, is scheduled to run Nov. 2–3 in Long Beach and in Chicago July 20–21 at the McCormick Place convention center, located on the shores of Lake Michigan.
The Agenda Festival’s cancellation was met with disappointment by some vendors. Brian Boles, founder and creative director of the Los Angeles–headquartered brand Wvs Brgde, said he prefers consumer events to trade shows.
“You were face-to-face with the consumer. What better feedback could you get?” Boles said. He remembered attending the Long Beach Agenda trade show in 2017 and getting $2,500 in wholesale orders. The following day at the Agenda Festival he made $7,000 from consumers buying Wvs Brdgde T-shirts and accessories.
Patricia Thornton, now vice president of sales at Ring of Fire Clothing, exhibited at the Agenda Festival in 2017 and 2018 with former employer Maui & Sons. She was surprised the festival was canceled.
“There were a lot of people there. A lot of people were having fun at the concerts,” she said. “Brands were selling exclusives just for the show. I’m not surprised that Agenda Long Beach closed because a lot of big brands pulled out. But I thought that the festival would continue. Consumers are always excited to get exclusives.”
Greg Weisman, an attorney with Ritholz Levy Fields, attended Agenda Festival in 2017 and 2018. He thought the consumer day was a valuable opportunity for wholesale brands to meet their consumers. But a consumer day demanded that traditional wholesalers develop new skills, which is a reason why these brands did not want to exhibit at upcoming Agenda Festivals. “The old line, wholesale brands struggled with how to engage with their fans,” he said.