My daughter Sara and I enjoyed our time at the Surf Expo September 9-11 in Orlando. The event attracts hundreds of vendors from the watersports and beach lifestyle business sector. Many businesses like Surfers Warehouse attend to keep up with new products and industry trends. It’s an opportunity for buyers to see various innovations firsthand and to place orders for the next season.
“The Surf Expo is also a great place to connect with old friends while forming new relationships,” added Sara. “Major companies like Hurley, O’Neill, Quicksilver participate, but most of the vendors were smaller companies representing popular and newer brands.”
The vendors were organized in two broad categories of Watersports and Coastal Life. The Watersports grouping was further divided into four areas – Surf, Bluewater, The Shoreline, and The Neighborhood. Surf refers to the surfing industry and it’s the category that launched Surf Expo. Bluewater featured inshore and offshore saltwater products ranging from lifestyle and technical apparel to footwear and outdoor accessories. The Shoreline focused on brands that make products that bridge the water and outdoor activities like camping supplies, tents, and campers. And finally, The Neighborhood grouping included vendors focused on surf, travel, and adventure.
The breakdown for the Coastal Life category of vendors included Swim, Boutique, Coastal Gift, Footwear, and Resort. Together, these categories cover apparel, footwear, accessories, jewelry, sunglasses, and a wide range of water and resort-friendly gift items.
You could feel a sense of optimism at this year’s summer expo as businesses continue rebounding from the impact of Covid 19 on industry supply chain issues. Various leaders in the industry acknowledged the resilience and innovation being sparked by Covid 19 related challenges.
Another feature of the Surf Expo was a handful of professional learning labs, which is a fancy term for panel discussions by experts. One of the talks that stood out – Success with Sustainability – focused on various ways businesses are using more sustainable materials and packaging.
“It’s helpful to hear about positive case studies on sustainability in an industry that depends on clean water and a balanced ecology,” Sara noted. “Many people that enjoy surfing and that buy surfing accessories care about the environment.”
Another presentation led by the Surfrider Foundation focused on the role ocean and lifestyle businesses can play in supporting healthy waterways in Florida and beyond. The talk covered water quality issues related to sewage and harmful algal blooms (HABs). The algal blooms produce toxins that harm human health and marine life. The same discussion also touched on plastic pollution and the impact of offshore drilling.
Selling surfing accessories is what we do for a living. We’re grateful that many businesses in our industry recognize that water quality and marine life protection are important to the future of surfing and other watersports.
Sara and I will be back in Orlando for the next Surf Expo set for January 5-7, 2022.