Strong Traffic at JCK’s ETS Pavilion

The Equipment, Technology, Services & Supplies Pavilion started off strong on the opening day of JCK Las Vegas and for the most part the crowds continued, only tailing off on June 2. In fact, according to some exhibitors, it may have the busiest section of the show.

The ETS pavilion—whose suppliers range from technology companies and retail store designers; to packaging and merchandising firms and jewelry making equipment companies—was once again located in a separate area consisting three sets of suites on the first floor of the Venetian Hotel, it’s home since 2003. And once again, there was a love and hate relationship among exhibitors with the space.

However, even with the annual complaints, most exhibitors were happy, some were even surprised by the amount of people they were seeing and the amount of business they were doing.

“I can’t believe it,” Henry Ballester of Artco Group, said during the second day of the show. “I came here with no expectations and I am extremely happy and surprised by the business we are doing.” The company, which specializes in store fixtures and retail store design, had its exhibit booth among the third tier of suites in Venetian, which receives the least amount of foot traffic. Ballester said his company does a good job of making appointments.

Maybe it wasn’t in spite of the economy but because of the economy that retailers seemed more interested than in past years in products and services that promise to help them become more efficient businesspersons and jewelers.

MPI Systems, Inc., was among several business management software companies whose booth was busy throughout the show. Annette Schwarz Kaye, vice president of the Wilton, Conn.-based company said she was very happy with the response toward the company’s new GEMINI Retail software system.

CAD/CAM companies also saw a lot of action during the show. Some exhibitors said part of the increase in traffic was due to the number of innovative items that were introduced at the show, making it easier for independent retailers to create and produce their own customer jewelry. Another reason for the increase some believe is because retailers are discovering that customer jewelry could be their way to compete with mass merchants and Internet retailers.

However, there were still issues with some exhibitors with the space in the ETS pavilion. These issues are twofold:

First, the suites are in a separate location from the rest of the show, so buyers have to make a special trip to the area. This, according to many exhibitors over the years, has turned out to be more of a blessing than a curse. Keely Grice of Grice Showcase & Display Manufacturing Inc., Charlotte, N.C., has said year-after-year that the people who come down to see the exhibitors in ETS are serious about doing business. And as in past years, business for him was strong. This year, he said, the “tire kickers” didn’t appear until June 2, the day before the show ended.

The second issue has to do with location within the ETS pavilion. The pavilion is divided into three sets of suites. The first set of suites closest to lobby receives the most traffic, with the traffic tailing off as you enter into the second and third group off suites. While most exhibitors seemed pleased with the amount of business and traffic they were getting, some expressed disappointment, though no on the record.

Some exhibitors work hard to jockey for a better position within the pavilion, often to little avail. Grid 3 International, an interior design firm, lost its space right in front of the main entrance of the pavilion. However, the firm remains in the coveted first set of suites, and there was no complaining for Ruth Mellergaard and Keith Kovar, principals of the New York-based company, who said they were extremely busy during the first day of the show and did well until Monday.