JA show recovered from blizzard’s ‘big hit,’ says show director

The blizzard of 2005 that walloped the JA New York Winter Show (Jan. 23 -25) was “a big hit” that caused a 30% drop in attendance, JCK was told by Drew Lawsky, the show’s director. However, show staff and exhibitors “pulled together incredibly and in the end it was a successful show, given the circumstances.”

The snow storm, one of the worst in many years, blanketed New York City and much of the Northeast from late Jan. 22 into the morning of Jan. 23. Flights and trains across the country headed to the Big Apple were cancelled or delayed. Traffic on regional roads slowed. Many were snowed in, and a state of emergency was declared in several areas.

“I think I aged 10 years in a few days [between when reports of a coming blizzard began to be serious and Sunday Jan. 23],” said Lawsky. “When I walked into the Javits Convention Cnter [site of the show] early Sunday morning I thought that if 15 people showed up it would be a lot.”

More than that finally showed up, but still far less than normal for the three-day show’s opening day. A total of 838 people came, far below the usual 5,700 for the first day. In addition, 45 of more than 900 companies participating in the show weren’t able to come, said Lawsky. “It was frustrating and heartbreaking,” he told JCK, “but everyone—JA show people and exhibitors–pulled together.”

Attendance began picking up on Monday, and all but five of the missing exhibitors made it in. Those missing included two companies from Hong Kong and one from Germany, who were victims of flight delays and cancellations.

“I was pleasantly surprised how much activity we had and had quickly it picked up,” said Lawsky. “We had had a solid Monday and Tuesday.” The show ended on Tuesday with a total attendance of more than 5,800 people (compared to the usual 8,500-plus figure.).

“The experience was draining,” he said, “but all things considered, we came through it very well.”