By Steve Feldman—One week into 2022 and we’ve been able to attend three industry shows. Everyone is moving forward with their events (well, almost everyone; more on that later), and each has been a success by their own metrics. Here are my observations:
Observation No. 1: Every state feels like its own country. Big difference between events in blue and red states. Mohawk’s Momentum Roadshow in Philadelphia had strict mask mandates and the same rules as New York as far as a vaccination card required to get in anywhere that serves food or drinks. On the other hand, in Dallas, both the Shaw market and Southwest Flooring Market were subject to neither restrictions nor mask mandates. Attendees were free to either mask up or not.
Observation No. 2: Mohawk did an exceptional job putting on its event despite the challenges that resulted in a slew of late cancellations due to weather and COVID-19 issues. They were tracking to have about 200 people on Day 1, and the people who came were the “right” retailers. They were serious buyers, and a Mohawk spokesperson told me business exceeded expectations. And it should have. Signature technology for RevWood will be a slam dunk. Pergo Extreme Ultra has probably the most bells and whistles of any SPC out there. And some of the new intros from Karastan are sure to knock the socks off retailers and consumers. Success.
Observation No. 3: I was happy to see Shaw return to live events after a year of going virtual or hosting small warehouse events. The home run was the launch of Pet Perfect Plus with LifeBack on both the Anderson Tuftex and Shaw Floors brands. Pet Perfect, as a replacement for Pet Protect, which in the past was solely within Anderson Tuftex, comes to the Shaw brand for the first time as a rebranded Bellera line. Lots of excitement on the hard surface side as well.
Observation No. 4: Exhibitors told me the retailers who showed up for the Southwest Flooring Market in Dallas were looking to buy and, in some cases, solidify their inventory position. The Dixie Group, Fuzion and Republic were just three who told me the first day was strong. Lori Kisner, managing partner, Market Maker Events was expecting an increase in atten- dance despite not having BPI on board as in years past. She said those retailers who canceled had contracted COVID-19 as opposed to being afraid of catching the virus. The show benefitted from a region that “puts business first and has decided to live with a virus that is going to be around for awhile,” she said.
Observation No. 5: At every event I attended, the talk of the town was the cancellation of the CCA winter convention. Now, I want to go on record as saying I respect and admire CCA and its leadership. They have a first-class organization and have done more to help its members than just about anyone. But to say every supplier I spoke to last week was surprised by the decision would be an understatement. And some of my CCA member friends were disappointed by the cancellation—none wanting to go on the record. Personally, I was saddened by the decision. Here’s why:
- CCA is a leader in this industry, and as leaders I believe they have an obligation to push the industry forward, much as they did last year when they held their summer convention in Denver—with no ill effects.
- I am sure health and safety were the deciding factors, but I believe we are at a point now where you need to give people the choice and not make decisions for them. Reminds me of 2020 when blue states locked down and red states were open.
- According to everything I’ve read, this Omicron variant is less severe than previous variants. In most cases, a vaccinated (and boosted) individual will experience something akin to a mild to severe cold. Do we really need to cancel for that?
- Members want to see new product in January—live, not virtually. Every retailer I speak with says the experience is so much better at an event rather than having the rep show up in the store. Now they will have to pivot to Surfaces or regional markets to see new product.
- I am sure members are clamoring to see each other and network in person and not via the Internet or Zoom.
- The event was scheduled to be held in Florida, which ensures minimal to no restrictive policy that could disrupt the event.
- Surfaces is going forward with many more people than would normally attend a CCA Global event.
- Many retailers have been calling Surfaces and Market Maker, saying they heard the event was canceled, confusing those events with the CCA convention.
- Someone told me CCA leadership was concerned about members getting stuck in Florida because of all the flight disruptions and an advisory that it would only get worse because of the Omicron spread. I think it should be up to each member to decide whether to take the chance.
Again, just my thoughts. I’m sure Howard and Rick had their reasons for shutting it down. Maybe too many members said they would not attend. But at this point, in my mind, it’s akin to shutting down air traffic for six months after 9-11.