14487 Wed, 05/14/2008 - 3:13pm
NEW YORK–An overwhelming majority of 41 Madison tenants approve of the new midweek tabletop show schedule, according to a survey by the building.
They voted in favor of no weekends and fewer market days, a concept supported by a Wednesday-through-Friday format this year, and a Tuesday-through-Friday format in 2009.
“It was clear the buying groups, department and chain stores chose to attend the market during the week with the independents remaining split on the issue,” said Carole Dixon, senior vice president and director of 41 Madison, which issued a survey shortly after the tabletop show last month. “There was very little traffic on Saturday and virtually none on Sunday. Following the show, we revised the dates to better serve the needs of retailers and our tenants.”
The New York fall tabletop show will take place Wednesday, Oct. 22, to Friday, Oct. 24.
The only difference of opinion among the tenants surveyed was whether to start the show on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, a preference that broke down along the lines of size of vendor. Larger companies had a harder time scheduling all their appointments in three days and voted for a Tuesday start, according to Dixon. Beginning in 2009, the show will move to a Tuesday-through-Friday format.
Dixon, concerned about the specialty independent retailers who have traditionally shopped the show on weekends, said she was not totally convinced that this new format is the best thing to do. She also anticipated vendors needing more than three days for showroom set-up, sales meetings and wrap-up talks. But, “With vendor response so adamant, I couldn’t hold off any longer. … Time will tell.”
With so much in flux today, she added, “I think the buildings do have to be a bit more open to the times.”
Walking through the showrooms during market last month, one was hard-pressed to find any vendors unhappy with the new format. Most spoke giddily about their personal weekend plans, and a few suggested that a compressed schedule rekindled a sense of urgency and vitality in an industry hit hard by changing times and a slowing economy. Most reported meeting with large department store groups in the beginning of the market week, before the official start of the show.
Specialty independent retailers had mixed views.
Frank Bromberg, executive vice president of Bromberg’s, which operates four stores in Birmingham, Ala., attended the show on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and was happy with the schedule. “I managed to see who I needed to see,” he said.
He added, however, that he wasn’t opposed to attending on weekends. “They give you ample time to know when the shows are and you plan your schedule accordingly.”
Sue Thome-John, president and chief executive officer of George Watts & Son in Milwaukee, based her travel on hotel rates and airfare prices. She went to the show Wednesday through Saturday, and said, “I’m OK with either [format].”
What would make the show easier to work, she said, are blocks of hotel rooms at reasonable prices and sales representatives willing to be available when buyers attended the show. She said sales representatives pressured her to visit their showrooms within the first few days because they weren’t planning to stay for the length of the show.
“If we are not able to meet with our reps, we kind of miss a beat when we come home,” she said.
Dixon said the building refers interested show attendees to Lois Lane Travel, which arranges blocks of rooms in nearby hotels at reduced rates.
Tom Blumenthal, CEO of Gearys Beverly Hills, was not happy with the new format. “It’s terrible,” he said. “I strongly dislike it.”
Blumenthal attended the show Wednesday through Saturday, arriving directly from a watch and jewelry show in Geneva. “We have a lot of ground to cover. We had about eight or nine appointments a day.”
Blumenthal, along with the other specialty retailers, also had to factor in time to visit the handful of showrooms that exhibit uptown. Shuttling between 41 Madison, 7 W New York and the French companies based on the Upper East Side was challenging, he said.
Blumenthal believes show dates were changed to accommodate New York-based retailers who don’t want to work on weekends. “But if everyone’s happy, hey, my middle name is adjust.” — Allison Zisko