OffPrice Adds New Section to Discount-Merchandise Trade Show

New to the longstanding OffPrice show this year in Las Vegas was a section called Boutique Buyer.

It featured labels that normally sell for higher prices but had goods to sell at a discount and in smaller quantities, just the opposite of the large volume of discount merchandise normally sold at the show, which ran Feb. 3–6 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

The new section, located at the back of the large trade show, had a more intimate vibe with smaller booths populated by several vendors who normally attend the Womenswear In Nevada show, held in Las Vegas during the same week.

Nanaz Golshan, who is vice president of sales, marketing and merchandising for Los Angeles–based Luxe Moda and Tesoro Moda, said the company was testing the waters at the show while the company continued to exhibit at WWIN. “We brought our markdown things, seeing it as a chance to move this merchandise,” she said, standing in front of a selection of denim jackets decked out in sequins, embroidery and other bling as well as ripped and well-washed blue jeans that had a very hip vibe. Jackets were wholesaling for $49, and pants were selling at wholesale prices ranging from $29 to $39. “The show has been okay. Nothing to write home about for now,” Golshan said.

Nearby, Ben Navabian, head of Los Angeles–based American Fashion Inc., was sitting at a booth with Sammy Sanchez. They said that the price to exhibit in the Boutique Buyer section was half the cost of exhibiting at WWIN, where the company has exhibited before. “Here you can meet big potential buyers, boutique buyers, and you can clear your merchandise,” Sanchez said. “We’ve seen a lot of customers.”

In the regular section of the trade show, where tried-and-true exhibitors have been coming for years, business was steady despite the first day of the show being on Super Bowl Sunday, which many exhibitors said caused a crimp in sales the first day.

“I think the Super Bowl definitely affected the whole show. It’s hard to compete with,” said Eddie Sitt, vice president of Aggressive Apparel, an off-price division of New York–based One Step Up Ltd. “We usually have two power days because we start two days before MAGIC. This year, we had only one power day, but people still did business.”

Show organizers said attendance during the first two days was up 11 percent over last year.

It was pretty much business as usual at the show for Scott Reffsin, a salesperson with Alliance Wholesale Corp., a big East Coast off-price discounter selling casual wear, swimwear and other goods.

“It’s pretty standard every year,” Reffsin said. “About 50 percent of our annual business is done here.”

He believes every OffPrice show gets better because the mix of retailers is changing. “The trend has become that the people who didn’t want to sell off-price merchandise have to now. So that has attracted more buyers to come here,” he said.