Premier Orlando Show Hits Rock Bottom

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[Reader’s Note: Mr. Smith is a new executive at a global beauty company who is visiting the Premier trade show to get a take on the professional beauty industry]


I have been with ABC Beauty Company for two months and just checked into the Orlando Hilton for the Premier Beauty show which I heard so much about. I brought along two colleagues. Our first stop was the lounge in which I heard so much activity at theses shows took place at the bars. Alas, the bar is less than half full and it doesn’t look like a lot of hairdressers are around. And this is Saturday night. Dinner at Capital Grille was interesting to say the least. I was told I would be lucky to get a reservation but the place was not even half filled. I guess all the people that used to dine here sold out.

Sunday, the first big day of the show I am so excited to see what the industry is all about. I walk in at 9:00AM and the first thing I notice is the loud music like I am at a concert. I see two guys on stage sporting Mohawk hair cuts and tat sleeves yelling into their microphones with a couple models in front of them. But there are only 4 people in the audience. In fact, I notice that all the stages have the same types of guys on them doing the same types of things.

Then as I am walking down an aisle, I see three “freaks” in stilts just like in the circus. Curiously I watch to see why they are there and then I see some of the attendees actually take their pictures with them.

Unfortunately after that I was walking down the wrong aisle as I almost got trampled with all the people running with their suitcases to the back of the show. Why would people have suitcases with them, but wait, some have janitor carts on wheels. Holy Toledo, I am almost run over by an electric cart with a suitcase in tow. I finally step out of the way and follow the crowd to see what all the excitement is about. Looks like one of the customers we sell to, Cosmoprof, is having a closeout sale. I count 40 registers. There is even two people swinging shopping baskets at the people to grab one. People are rushing through the aisles like the products will disappear if they don’t hurry. But then I see people paying and running to the other side of the show floor.

So again I follow the crowd being careful not to be run over but it helps I don’t have a suitcase. Same scenario but not a customer of ours, Salon Centric, has the same flea market deals and swinging baskets and rush of people. I have never seen anything like this in my life.

I’m now back to walking the show floor and seeing what our competitors are doing. The entire show floor is filled with women (the only guys around  are on stage) and I’m thinking I must be at a women’s expo and not a pro beauty show. But alas I see signs all over that I am in the right place. One booth is selling real Indian hair and it looks like it came off the streets. Another booth is selling costume jewelry for $1.00 and up. People are lined up for nachos and pretzels in the food area. Somewhere there has to be some hair booths.

I finally come across the Wella booth and truthfully, it’s more of a show within the show than a booth. Very impressive to say the least but looks like they don’t allow roller bags or janitor carts since there isn’t a single customer to be found. I’m sure Wella isn’t selling Koleston for $1 a tube, but looking around, it might not be a bad idea.

There is the TIGI booth and I am reading on it, “Hair products for professionals designed by professionals” and signed by Anthony Mascola. Of course he sold out to Unilever and they opened Sally in January among others. I wonder what that means.

Matrix and Redken did an OK job but I can’t find Pureology, L’Oreal Professionnel, Kerastase or any of the other L’Oreal brands including Essie.

I bump into Vince Davis who I was told was formerly with TIGI. Now he is with Macadamia Nut but they don’t have a booth. I wonder what he was doing there but I have more pressing things to do than think about that.

I also see Paul Sharnsky and I think he is seeing who is doing more business, the Matrix/Redken booth or the flea market. I think he is scratching his head since he doesn’t like the answer.

The crowd is picking up and now I see people dragging their roller bags with multiple empty shopping bags that booths are passing out. Why are people carrying them? Some bags are so big I wonder how anyone could carry them if they were used. I’m going to make a recommend to management that we invest in really big bags.

Oh, there is Mike Nave, another person I was told about. He is about as old as the industry and still writes about it. I look forward to his write-up about this show. I want to yell to Mike to “watch out, the stilt people are right behind you!” He is looking good in his 32 waist but I’m not even sure why I know that.

By now the music is so loud I need to go outside to clear my head. But the number of people smoking has me gagging so it’s back inside.

Actually I’m going to call it a day. I have been to more than 100 shows in my life and I have never witnessed anything like this one. It’s a damn good thing my company didn’t take a booth. I might as well get one of those pretzels.