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									         Retailer Impressions@The 2010 Travel Goods Show

     By Garrett Lai

It’s a big show, and there really is a lot to
see. Between juggling appointments, catch-
                                                    THE BIGGEST TREND FOR THE
                                                    2010 Travel Goods Show was attitude.
ing seminars and just plain catching up with        Walking the floor, listening to retail-
                                                    ers, attendees kept saying over and
industry friends, seeing the whole of The           over how positive it felt. People were
                                                    writing orders, and things were mov-
Travel Goods Show is pretty much impossible.        ing. “I thought the upbeat attitude was
                                                    much improved over the year before.
Which is why it it helps to borrow the eyes         That was the first thing I was looking
                                                    for at this year’s Show, and I found
and ears of a few industry retailers to get their   it,” declares David McLean, owner of
                                                    McLean Luggage in Edmonton, Alberta,
read on what’s happening in our industry.           Canada, who’s been in the luggage busi-

                                                            Travel Goods SHOWCASE   May 2010   59
Retailer Impressions@The 2010 Travel Goods Show

     ness nearly 30 years.                        Minnesota, had to agree about the            the lightweight issue,” he says. “But all
         Accessories have definitely come of      color, although that’s not necessarily       the products have improved by giving
     age — we saw more than 70 exhibitors         a positive. “I noticed huge amounts of       customers better value. I look at what
     this year with significant portions of       color, which is painful for me because I     Antler brought to The Show this year
     their product lines devoted to accesso-      can only sell black,” she says, explaining   versus last year, the New Size Zero is
     ries, and some, like Design Go and L.C.      that her family-owned business caters        remarkably better, it just feels much
     Industries, are exclusively accessories      primarily to flight crews, and for them      more substantial. The old Size Zero sold
     purveyors. Luggage will always be an         black is the only color allowed on the       well for us, it’s so light it shocks people.
     inseparable part of the travel goods         job.                                         But they replaced some of the vinyl
     landscape, but in terms of items offered          “Everything is changing in the lug-     aspects of it with nylon, and improved
     for sale, accessories may have eclipsed      gage industry,” says Usha Ramchandani,       the colors with a deeper bronze color
     luggage offerings, or are about to.          owner of Luggage World and Travel            on the one that’s not black (and black
         Jeff Izenson, owner of Specialty         in Miami, Florida, who’s been in the         was awfully good). They made the case
     Luggage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,         industry 15 years. “Everything is going      for the same price, but it looks like it
     has “maybe been to 26 Shows,” having         from two wheels to spinners to light-        has more value, it’s more refined and
     been born to a family in the business,       weight. People don’t want to get big         improved,” Wein says. “Travelpro made
     and has spent 25 years working in            sizes [of luggage] any more, like before.    some big steps in improving their prod-
     the industry full time. “My impression       The industry is more into accessories,       ucts. The new Crew 8 was outstanding,
     was there were more accessory people         which do well, especially when you add       I feel like they’ve really righted their
     this year, which I thought was a good        it on with the luggage. People like the      ship, and are doing a lot of things that
     thing.”                                      locks and tags, and everything is TSA.       will really help them.”
                                                                                                              Continues Wein, “One of
                                                                                                         the things about going to The
 One of the things about going to The Show is you                                                        Show is you go to a booth,
                                                                                                         and you revisit something
 go to a booth, and you revisit something that a                                                         that a year ago you thought
                                                                                                         wasn’t so great, and then you
 year ago you thought wasn’t so great, and then you                                                      change your mind. I did that
                                                                                                         with Atlantic Compass this
 change your mind.                                                                                       year. Before The Show my
                                                                                                         whole mindset on Atlantic
                                                                                                         and Travelpro [which owns
          And light weight, which has been        The luggage scales are phenomenal,           Atlantic] in general was their quality
     a design factor since the invention of       people like colorful luggage, not plain      was a little bit off. But I think they’ve
     the suitcase, continues to be a power-       black. Polycarbonate luggage is doing        proved to me they’re committed to
     ful trend. Fueled by airline overweight      better than soft-sides, which used to be     quality. I got to meet the people from
     baggage fees and customer demand,            the most popular for us but people are       the company, and it confirms their com-
     and probably helped along by our aging       getting into more polycarbonate.”            mitment to what they’re doing. So now
     demographic and the simple fact that              One big trend Ramchandani noted         they’re a key vendor for us,” Wein says.
     better, stronger materials are available,    is the trend toward shopping again, and           “Another company I think is
     lightweight luggage just keeps getting       with it, a deeper trend toward value.        really on top of things is Delsey. It’s
     lighter and better. “We’re still seeing      “People are spending more money on           a remarkable company with all the
     weight reduction from a lot of people,       luggage. Before, they didn’t spend that      things they do, with the different angles
     that’s a big part of The Show,” Izenson      much, but now they realize the more          they approach things with — like light
     observes.                                    they spend the more they get for their       weight and security. They have a new
          “Lighter luggage is happening a         money — better quality, it lasts longer,     case, and you can’t puncture the zipper.
     lot,” says Gillian “Gill” Green, buyer for   and you get a better warranty,” says         Most cases, you can puncture the zipper
     Luggage & Leather Depot in Atlanta,          Ramchandani. “People travel, and as          with a ballpoint pen and get inside, you
     Georgia, who’s a 12-Show veteran.            bad as the economy could be, they don’t      won’t be able to do that with this case,”
     “There were a lot more travel accesso-       stop traveling. Everybody is still travel-   says Wein.
     ries, there are more choices for custom-     ing, they still need luggage, and they            Gregg Simon, president of Portland
     ers. We’re definitely trending toward        want to invest in something that will        Luggage in Portland, Oregon, has been
     more good stuff at lower price points.”      last. Things are definitely changing for     attending The Travel Goods Show since
          Color continues to be a powerful        the better.”                                 he was seven, but started attending in
     eye-catcher on The Show floor, although           The industry, as a whole, seems to      a professional capacity 29 years ago. “I
     black is still the color that’s ordered      be paring weight and adding value at the     noticed a couple of interesting trends. I
     most. “I saw color again, and by color I     same time. At least that’s how it looks to   like the fact that there are environmen-
     mean eye-popping color,” says Izenson,       31-year industry vet Philip Wein, an         tally conscious products now. I think
     “which I think is good.”                     owner of Irv’s Luggage in the Chicago        that’s a nice thing to offer our custom-
          Jennifer Malmberg, buyer/man-           suburb of Mount Prospect, Illinois.          ers, especially in the Northwest because
     ager of Stop-Over Store in St. Paul,         “Lots of manufacturers have addressed        people here are very environmentally

60   May 2010   Travel Goods SHOWCASE
                 Retailer Impressions@The 2010 Travel Goods Show

conscious. It would be nice if some          able — absolutely terrific, from UBU.”        know in the men’s room it’s disgusting
of the majors began to pay a little bit           Sanjay Bhalla, manager of                — it seems like the thing to have.”
of attention to that, what kind of eyes      Manhattan’s Eastside Luggage Shop                 GoGirl also made the tryout list
they’re using, how the leather’s being       and a nine-year industry veteran, made        for Gill Green. “There were so many
processed, the number of chemicals           his fifth trip to The Travel Goods Show       new travel accessory distributors, they
being used in things. Then again, I’ve       and came home to give Bric’s a try as a       tend to blur after awhile. But there are
got friends who live in areas of the         new vendor in his shop. “We’re trying         definitely a lot of new ideas, like the
country where nobody cares. But the          out their Life Collection and the casual      ladies’ products, we’re trying a bath-
younger generations are more aware,          line of handbags. So far it’s been little     room product called GoGirl. I like the
it’s part of who they are, and they’re       response, but business is slow. We’re         blowup bag that protects your wine
paying attention to this. So I think the     moving in a positive direction, no ques-      [VinniBag].”
majors would be wise to pay attention        tion, but right now it is tough.”                 Malberg’s Stop-Over Store is also
to that, that’s the future.”                      Ramchandani says, “We ordered            giving VinniBag a tryout. “I think they
     Simon also agrees that value and        some of the self-weighing luggage from        just did such a great job, and it’s multi-
quality are ascendant. “Some compa-          Intelligent Luggage. It’s great — the         use. But I knew there was a need, I
nies are really doing their best to main-    scale’s on the bag, so you just put your      know with my customers [principally
tain quality, and I was happy to see that.   stuff in it and weigh it. It sits on the      flight crews], they do purchase so much
I think Johnston & Murphy’s doing a          ground and weighs itself, automati-           wine.” Malmberg also put a toe in the
terrific job of this, I love their stuff.    cally showing you the weight of the           water with Antler’s New Size Zero. “It’s
They make great luggage, it’s unique,        luggage. We ordered some Eagle Creek,         lightweight, and has a 10-year guar-
they keep the price clean and it’s very      because their accessories are doing           antee. Plus the fact that the construc-
high quality.”                               well, lots of people ask me about them.       tion incorporated carbon fiber, which
                                             We added Eagle Creek duffels in small,        we’ve been kind of curious about. We
                                             medium, large and extra large. We             do so much luggage repair here, it

New Lines,                                   ordered the hiking backpacks, and we
                                             ordered all the accessories, the ones
                                                                                           just seemed like a natural progression
                                                                                           to go with carbon fiber to combat the

New                                          that come on the rack with Pack-It®
                                             Cubes, Pack-It® Folders and Mobile
                                                                                           weight while maintaining durability. It’s
                                                                                           really amazing — the frame is like coat

                                             Locker, Compression Sacs, ID pouch,
                                             all of it. And we added a vacuum space
                                             saver type of thing, those are something
                                                                                           hanger wire — we’re giving it a whirl. I
                                                                                           have a flight attendant demoing it right
                                                                                           now to see how it does.”
Show is an opportunity to discover new       I think will sell well.”                          Antler’s New Size Zero also made an
product lines, new product categories,            Izenson brought in some new              impression with Simon and Portland
and a chance to, well, shop for new          items and vendors after his trip to The       Luggage. “They’re a company that has
items for their shop. You can’t beat The     Show. “We bought into Eagle Creek’s           made a strong showing at The Show
Travel Goods Show for business-build-        Hovercraft line. It’s very light, and it’s    for the last few years, and to my knowl-
ing opportunities, and this year that        well made. And we’re also looking at          edge they weren’t getting that much
proved to be very much the case.             new vendors like Ed Hardy — that              action. But they were still buying the
    “After The Show we brought in            could be an interesting thing. It’s very      big booth, and they really came into
umbrellas from Vista, out of New             hip and topical,” says Izenson.               play with their programs this year —
Jersey, just for fun, and we’re now               “Briggs and Riley’s new BRX looks        they’re getting in everywhere.”
going back for our third order on some       very cool as well, it has a unique                Portland Luggage also brought in
of this stuff,” enthused David McLean        look, and they really seemed to do            a couple of new exhibitors after see-
in Edmonton, just weeks after return-        their research. You never know until it       ing them at The Show. “We brought in
ing from Las Vegas. “We’ve never had         checks out, but it seemed functional.         Spibelts and Lipault. Everybody liked
umbrellas and walking canes in our           And Heys had the Hummer series,               Lipault — they’re fashiony, lightweight,
store before, it’s been absolutely incred-   which we spent a lot of time with             well-priced, and tell a story.”
ible. We got these walking sticks that       [Izenson is on the NLDA luggage com-

                                                                                           Crystal Ball
have a palm grip, it fits in your palm,      mittee]. It’s a real mixed bag of opinion.
we’ve never seen one like this, and          I liked it, although I’m a little uncertain
they’re from Vista, like the umbrellas.      it would continue to mean anything
We have a senior’s hospital just opposite    after they shut Hummer down, but it’s         THERE’S NO FOOLPROOF METHOD
us on the street, and we keep getting        a pretty unique product.”                     for determining what lies ahead, but
calls for these walking canes. If you             One new item Izenson’s trying out        The Travel Goods Show continues to be
have arthritis you can’t grip things very    is GoGirl, a small personal accessory         the best prognosticator for determining
easily, and because these are shaped and     that allows women to urinate standing         the hot product categories, brands and
molded for the hand they’re fabulous,”       up. “We’re selling it, not as fast as we      businesses for the coming year.
says McLean. “We also picked up a new        hear other people are doing, but we are           Collectively, our informal survey of
product category, ladies’ reversible trav-   selling it. When you’re going to a third      retailer impressions definitely points
el coats. We’ve got windbreakers, knee-      world country, or a hockey game — I           the way to a more energized, upbeat
length, beautiful coats, they’re fashion-    don’t know what they do in there, but I       future. And that’s good news indeed. b

                                                                                                   Travel Goods SHOWCASE    May 2010    61

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