If you live in a cold climate, it’s always an extra bonus to travel to a trade show where the sun is shining and the weather is a balmy 70 degrees, as was the case at the recent ISS in Long Beach. With horizontal snow (yes, it’s windy) outside the window now, and a temp of about 9 degrees, I can’t help but recall the warm weather when writing about the show. But weather musings aside, the show was once again a hotbed of activity for imprinted sportswear entrepreneurs, especially those looking to expand their businesses. From our own count of booth visitors and after speaking with other exhibitors, visitation was up about 25-30% over previous years. There was rarely a dull moment in the GroupeSTAHL booths, which included a line up from Stahls’ ID Direct, Stahls’ Hotronix, Stahls’ Transfer Express, and Great Dane Graphics. One corner of the Stahls’ ID booth, where we had a stack of lettering kits featuring our new Pre-Sewn Distressed Lettering kits in Chino Twill and Acrylic Felt. Although they made their official debut at the Las Vegas PPAI show, both new and current customers were very excited about seeing these letters up close and personal for the first time. We had several kits open and folks were taking samples and making their own caps featuring the distressed twill letters right in the booth. Distressed looks are still extremely popular, and this new lettering style allows you to add distressed text to garments and caps with just a heat press. No sewing or any other processing involved. Just place and press. Also available in numbers, so you can create a variety of looks for athletes and fans. Perfect for use on sweatshirts and t-shirts. It is a product you will want to show your customers. Once they see it, they will want to order it. What other trends did we see? Huge demand for our GlitterFlake CAD-CUT materials, the cutter never stopped cutting samples the entire show. We also sold out of our sample rolls and sample packs that feature sheets of all the GlitterFlake colors. We also sold more Hotronix heat presses than we expected, with all the floor models claimed for sale by midday Saturday and many others taking advantage of “at the show only” specials for free shipping. At the Transfer Express booth, there were many “ah-ha” moments when young entrepreneurs realized just how easy it was to get started printing custom garments with a heat press and custom transfers. And Imprintables Warehouse reported that there seemed to be more screen printers than usual, looking to add cutters or a printer cutter to expand their technology offerings. It was also confirmed that the market for stock transfers is still just as strong as ever, with fellow exhibitors such as Wildside confirming record sales. It’s no wonder with their detailed artwork, super soft hand and huge design variety. Rodney of T-Shirt Forums also had a steady stream of visitors from his perch inside the Impressions Magazine booth (he has almost celebrity status with many people in the industry) but I did find a few minutes to chat with him. We both agreed that the quality of the people attending the show is highly evident, keeping us busy answering very intelligent questions about a wide range of decorating technologies. Because while the people who come to these shows are smart business people, it is not always easy figuring out the best solution for a particular project with so many technologies now available. Rodney confirmed that the T-Shirt Forum is still one of the best places to go to get “unconfused” and this is the reason why the site remains so popular and is widely used by both new and old timers.
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