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Alabama retailer: first ICAST was a ‘tremendous experience’

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Mark’s Outdoor Sports has now modeled its showroom on brands seen in Orlando.

John Norris has a message for retailers who have not yet visited ICAST. “Get yourself to Orlando this year. You won’t regret it.”

Norris, of Mark’s Outdoor Sports in Birmingham, Alabama, made his first trip to the world’s biggest trade show for the first time and is looking forward to a return in July.

“Was it worth it? Absolutely,” he told Angling International. “It was a tremendous experience. There is no better place to find out what is going on in the industry and to stay up to date with new products coming on to the market.

“We found it a great place to see things we don’t stock. We picked up a rod from Australia that we would never have seen if we hadn’t gone to ICAST.

“We increased our range of 6th Sense lures directly as a result of going to the show and also began stocking rods from Halo, Favorite and Cashion. We also added some new Gamakatsu hooks and different sized jerkbaits.

“We spent two days at the show and, including the driving, it was a four-day deal. But it was time well spent and good value. We modeled our whole showroom floor from what we saw there.”

Norris and his colleagues also took advantage of the opportunities ICAST presented for meeting with product developers and senior management figures at major companies like Shimano, Daiwa and Megabass.

“It is a rare chance to get to talk to these people,” added Norris. “They were very approachable and very patient. The whole thing was a tremendous experience.”

Looking ahead, Norris is already doing his homework and knows some of the things he wants to explore come July, with Shimano’s new Bantam baitcast reels among the products on his must-see list.

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