JCK – Orlando Show post mixed results

ORLANDO – Major retailers such as JC Penney, Kay Jewelers, Macy’s East and West, Sears, QVC, Tiffany, and others, as well as independent retailers from throughout the Southeast were among the visitors to the JCK Show–Orlando, held Sunday through Tuesday.

Although retailer foot traffic was somewhat lighter than previous years, the buyers who came were serious about doing business. Exhibitors who were relying on walk-by traffic to build business were somewhat disappointed with the turnout, but those who had made pre-set appointments reported that their clients came and business was solid.

“It was a great show for us—I saw all my major clients, and we also saw a big increase in the number of independents here this year vs. last year,” said Jane Stabler of Honora. Richard Lawler of Gordon Brothers-GBC Inc. said, “The show started extremely strong and on opening day we had ‘standing room only.’”

New to the Orlando show this year were several programs and pavilions. The Center of Style Lounge offered complimentary wine, cheese, champagne, and strawberries, plus a variety of showcases highlighting new product designs from several leading manufacturers. A new pavilion debut, StyleMaker, showcased 16 design-oriented firms. The StyleMaker Pavilion is also set to become a fixture of the JCK Show in Las Vegas as well.

The conference program was well attended, with most classes at or near full capacity. It featured 11 educational sessions, covering tracks dedicated to retail, business, and diamonds. Sessions included “Empowered or Hamstrung: Employee/Boss Relatinons,” and “Competing with Brands you Don’t Carry,” both of which featured vignettes with performers from the Performance Plus group posing as store personnel. Discussions, facilitated by well-known industry trainer Janice Mack Talcott, focused on one critical question: whether the retailer was seeking to close one sale or build a lifelong customer.

Business classes included “Essential Elements of Jewelry Retailing,” with GIA Business School instructor Dr. Tim Malone, and “Five Fundamentals of Good Business,” presented by retailer David Nygaard of Virginia Beach, Va.

JCK senior editor Carrie Soucy again offered her popular “Fashion Facets” class, showing jewelers how to coordinate the newest jewelry designs with the current season’s ready-to-wear fashion, and senior editor Rob Bates, who discussed critical issues in the diamond industry. Additionally, JCK’s guest columnist Brad Huisken offered a motivational sales training session, and the always-controversial Martin Rapaport offered a two-hour session on the state of the diamond industry.

But the biggest news was that the JCK winter show is set to move from Orlando to Phoenix next year. The move, officially announced Feb. 3 at the “Phoenix Rising” party at the Peabody Hotel, was greeted with enthusiasm all around. The JCK Show – Phoenix is scheduled for February 6-8, 2004, at the Phoenix Civic Plaza. While the 2004 dates overlap the AGTA Gemfair, dates for 2005 and beyond are timed to fall immediately before the AGTA fair.

The move to Phoenix was a strategic effort to localize and consolidate jewelry industry activity into a winter market in Arizona, said Dave Bonaparte, vice president of the JCK Shows. JCK and AGTA are working together to create an easy way for buyers to work both fairs in 2004, he said.