ABC Kids Expo vs Plush

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 @ 11:06 AM
posted by mrscaz

You know me, I’m always looking for the best way to spend our kids belts marketing/advertising budget (not that there is much of one, that’s how we keep our costs lower so we can still make Dapper Snappers in the USA), and yesterday I got an email. It looked like your average spammy type email, which I usually just delete, but then the subject line caught my eye, “ABC Kids vs PLUSH – The Truth“. Hmm… We have never been to Plush, but I have always wondered (and you know how I feel about the ABC Expo, as I discussed here and here). So, I opened the email and read.

My Take and What I See As The Future

Ok – I admit it “the truth” as stated in the subject line is only seen through my observations; however the amount of phone calls, emails and talks I have received and or participated in within the last few months prompts me to pen a letter that I hope shares my opinion on how I see the industry as a whole

So that everyone is up to speed, and forgive me to those that have been following my emails in the past, I proudly state that I am a veteran in this industry. 47 years to be exact. Proud owner of what we in the east call a mom and pop store. I grew up in the industry helped build the industry and look forward to a few more years in the industry. I stay anonymous through these email chains because I speak the truth and know the players on all sides. My friends this is a small industry – let’s not kid ourselves to that fact.

The Question at Hand 

Like I stated in my prior paragraph I have received inquiry after inquiry on what I see as THE SHOW to attend for the manufacturer and for the buyer, so let’s focus on the two shows that seem to be at each other’s neck and simplify the question thus bringing about a an easier, if any, solution.

ABC Kids - Good show, simple and bland but really all I need when it comes to finding my manufacturers, there does in lie the problem. 4-5 days of sifting through mountains of booths to only see 200-300 of my actual clients is a real downer. Like I stated above, I know the players of ABC and understand there determined goal to make themselves the largest show the industry has

seen…(que echo..seen..seen…seen) but let’s be frank, the million of $$$ that the show brings in does very little to help my store or the manufacturers that purchase the booth space. Due to little loyalty within the ranks of ABC and previous committees and boards the facts always make their way to my doorstep.The industry seems to have come to grips with the fact that inflated salaries, lush “non show” excursions and an ultimately bland show is the new norm for the industry. Now don’t pick up the phone and call ABC right away to complain about me… there is a flip side to this coin. This IS the show you have to go to place your product in front of buyers. Heed what I say when I tell anyone that is planning on attending ABC Kids that they made smart decision and I look forward to seeing them there. Oh and ABC – one more thing. KY C’mon???

PLUSH - this seems to be the biggest point of contention for most people that I talk to so I spent last week on the west coast visiting the show learning all I could and seeing some of my manufacturers. I’ll give you the good with the bad and then hopefully have a solution to the ongoing question later in this email.

THE GOOD – the bland went away. As a buyer this show was more appealing to my senses than any other show I have ever been at. From the moment you walked in the doors to the networking events, you felt as if you were the most important person there. I like that every once in a while. The manufacturers were great to talk with and the mood of the show made me proud to be in the industry.

THE BAD – It was very expensive to attend the show and beyond the networking events, a hamburger cost me $30.00. I did have the luxury of staying the 3 days for the show so the cost is partly my fault however seeing the consumer aspect of the show was interesting, CROWDED and worth the extra night stay and $40.00 breakfast. I have to throw the speakers for what I assume was the educational side under the bus for a second. I would rate them as a 30 on a scale of 0- 100 mostly because of “self proclaimed industry expert” Jamie Grayson. I was able to attend both of his seminars and was bored with both. Now don’t crucify me yet. I know he has a following of about 60 women in the industry that hate their husbands  and are looking for a sensitive man in their life, but seriously this young man is a perfect example of how the industry needs NOT TO BE. (This may be the bulk of my next email blast) As a side note to my side note, I also attended the panel at ABC Spring which was very similar to the panel at PLUSH and was happy with what I came away with. So maybe Jamie you send me an email and we can discuss why you flamed out at PLUSH.The decor atmosphere and management was charming and down-home for a west coast show and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this young show.


If you skipped the above just to see what I think, well, you didn’t miss much, but I must ask you to be very serious in reading what I see as the solution. There DOES need to be a change in the industry. ABC shaking hands with foreign entities sends red flags all over my mind and PLUSH being high end yet high dollar also strikes fear to my inner wallet. So Larry Schur, Jina Parks (Show managers of both ABC and PLUSH) – if you are reading this head my below advice and please know that I speak for a great many.

Larry (ABC Kids) – The show is too big – you forgot what the industry is all about and instead filled the bank accounts. Please remember that we are who you fought many years for and I hope you continue to fight for. Please please please reconsider your relationships with other countries. You know this will end bad for many.

Jina Parks (PLUSH) you have the future of show/events in the industry. If ABC had an ounce of courage they would pull your show into their fold and together make the industry unshakable. Bring your pricing for all attendees to an acceptable place and you have my business going forward and many of those that read this blog/email.

To The Reader (that’s you) watch these shows very carefully – one is for you and one could very well be against you.  If I had to make my choice now…it would be for PLUSH. They are what the industry needs to be healthy and they radiate that in their show, management and there perseverance.

Talk with everyone soon,

The Juvenile World Old Guy

I enjoyed reading his perspective. There isn’t enough information about worthwhile trade shows and we end up spending thousands of dollars to attend shows in which we make few contacts (simply because of lack of attendance), like ENK this spring. And I couldn’t agree more with him about ABC at KY. As I stated earlier, we went the first time it was in KY and it was just awful. We heard that last years was better, though we refused to attend. However, from what I gathered, even though the entertainment was better, orders were still down because the buyers didn’t want to go to KY and really, that’s what we are there for orders and connections, not entertainment.

All of this being said, I don’t know who this guy is but I appreciated hearing a buyers point of view. Like I said, normally I skip over emails like this, but since we haven’t attended Plush and I was told it would be a good show to attend, I felt “called” to read it. We will be at the ABC Kids Expo in Vegas this year, but next year we may look into Plush!

I hope it helps you with your trade show decisions!


Common Cents Mama - Kids Belts - Toddler Belts inventor

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