The Death of the Trade Show

Posted by Bill Rosson on

Trade Shows Are A Relic

After 30 years of participating in what was known back then as the New York Gift Fair, later to be rebranded as NY NOW, Mike + Ally is pulling the plug.  It’s a decision in which our feelings are mixed between sad and yet relieved. 

In its hey day, the NY Gift Fair was the place to show and be seen.  All the provincial shows in comparison – were just small town fairs.  Most companies were not considered players unless they did the show circuit consisting of L.A., Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago.  But when the Javits Center was built in 1986, buyers from the tri state area, nationally and world-wide  rushed to view new product launches and attend the post show parties.  What better place to do business and be entertained than the Big Apple.

One of the unexpected bi-products of exhibiting at the show was building a tight relationship with a community of like minded companies.  It literally became a second family for those 4-5 days- twice a year- and then again in different cities.
I fondly remember an older German couple, Hans and his wife, who owned a company that manufactured decorative bottle stoppers. Every night at show closing, all the neighboring booths would hang around for wine and cheese at their stand. They stayed at some sleazy hotel on 8th avenue because Hans enjoyed his morning swim and then would pack their van and move on to the next show. It seemed every buyer on the floor would stop at his booth and talk – and on occasion place an order. 

Of course there were other memories which included the constant fear of snow storms during the Jan show, enduring Super Bowl Sundays, having to pay ransom like union rates and the torture of moving display materials in and out.  All of this was tolerable as long as the buyers attended and orders were written.

The Pandemic was not the cause of the demise of NY NOW.  The show was steadily going downhill for a number of years with larger exhibitors moving to permanent showrooms and buyers tightening budgets or attending Atlanta/High Point. Once we saw the ‘Home Textile’ show be relegated to the bottom floor and then eventually to just a few aisles – we knew it was time.

Now over a year without having done a tradeshow, Mike + Ally has been able to introduce new collections using zoom meetings, an enhanced website, email blasts and soon a newly designed catalog.  At some point, we may travel to a few major cities to visit clients – but it has been a HUGE savings and a much better use of our time than standing at tradeshow booths.


One small caveat….we will continue exhibiting at Maison Objet for the simple reason we love Paris!  Visit us Sept 9-13.


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