Sports Licensing & Tailgate Show

Paula Haerr and Jon Bibo spent the week at the SLTS in Vegas and here are some of their insights and observations.

Plenty of Fish in the Collegiate Licensed Merchandise Sea

ICBA has attended SLTS the last 3 years and has seen the show grow in 3 important ways:

  1. The total number of booths has grown 40%-50% vs. 2 years ago (over 300 booths this year)
  2. The number of exhibitors with collegiate licensed merchandise has grown substantially; previously, exhibitors featuring professional sports dominated the show floor.
    • More than 24 long-time ICBA Vendor Partners were on hand, including: Russell Athletic, MV Sport, Capri Designs, Spirit Products, Spirit Jersey, LXG, League, Legacy, Vantage, Boxercraft, Ahead, All Star Dogs, Strideline, Storm Duds, Flying Colors, Champion, Under Armour, Colosseum, Charles River Apparel, Antigua, Jostens, Signature Announcements, Color Shock, Third Street, and Cutter & Buck.
    • New ICBA Partners that you’ll see at the ICBA Conference next month were also in attendance: Zephyr, Image One, Fan Frenzy, Horn Legend, MCM Group, Jardine Associates, and The Fanatic Group.
    • ICBA also had promising conversations with 30-40 promising new partners including: #WEARENOTTELLINGUNTILTHEDEALSAREIN. As advocates for the independent college store channel, we at ICBA love getting the chance to loudly and proudly tell the story of why independent college stores are great retailers and great partners to the vendor community
    • It was fascinating hearing the backstory of how several vendors got their start in collegiate products: the grandpa that passed down the jewelry trade to the grandson; the garment district manufacturer whose wife said, “Let’s make pet clothes”; three generations sewing flags in the U.S.A. starting out with Grandma who, by the way, is still the active owner!
  3. The number of college store buyers has increased noticeably, including ICBA members from Auburn, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Utah, Arizona, Mount Royal, U.S. Naval Academy, Central Washington, Rose-Hulman, Kansas, North Dakota State, Dayton, Oregon, Mars Hill, and Grand Canyon.

Trend Chat

  • Plaidness Madness: many booths were featuring plaid shirts and accents
  • Shades of Sherpa: stylish garment cuts and new colorways for 2018
  • Kids (not kidding): more choices and broader product offerings in kids/infant/toddler
  • Time for a Drink: more drinkware and especially, more high-end drinkware with lots of premium features
  • Sock it to Me: wilder, bigger, bolder graphics on socks (with plenty of “right sock + left sock = the complete graphic”)
  • Let’s Get Graphic: wilder, bigger, bolder apparel graphics.
  • Jewels, Not Fools: more jewelry options from even more vendors covering a wide range of price points

Concrete Is Cool

For the 2nd year in a row, the Concrete World Convention shared space with SLTS. Last year, ICBA entered the World’s Best Bricklayer Contest to show off our skillz, however, Jon finished 157th out of 157. This year, Jon and Paula got caught up on OSHA violations and even thought about attending some education sessions about the crazy mixed up world of concrete (Get it? “Mixed Up” world), but decided that seeing more collegiate merchandise booths was a better way to serve the ICBA Membership.

Overall SLTS is becoming more relevant and valuable to college stores. We were honored that SLTS featured ICBA and allowed Jon to give two presentations on retail fundamentals. We think SLTS complements the upcoming ICBA Conference nicely and we will be back next year!