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ICAST visitor catches on fast to benefits of trade show

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Fisherman’s Central President, Dan Blackert, has only been visiting ICAST for three years, but he is in no doubt how important it is for retailers to visit.

Dan Blackert is a relative newcomer when it comes to ICAST, but the President of Ohio-based retailer, Fisherman’s Central, has caught on fast.

Last year was only his third ever visit to the world’s largest fishing trade show, but he told Angling International, “I can’t think of one reason why any retailer wouldn’t go.

“As a businessman, it is the only place where you can find out what is happening in your industry. You need to find out what new players are entering the marketplace and what they are bringing to the table. You also have to be abreast of the older ones and how they are faring and rejuvenating themselves.

“Mergers and acquisitions are commonplace, but you need to be able to gauge how they are affecting the trade and the way you do business. All this information is crucial when you are in the midst of it – and competing against many of them.”

Blackert says that as the President of a company which has up to 58,000 skus in its store, he also has to know what is coming onto the market and take advantage of those that he believes will give him an edge. And he named three products that he would not have stocked if he had not visited Orlando.

Two award winners from last year immediately produced dividends for the company – St. Croix’s Legend Glass cranking rod and the Savage Gear 3D Suicide Duck. “Everyone was buzzing about the rod, but we would not have invested in it – and sold every one we bought – had we not been at ICAST.

“The same can be said for the duck. A lot of retailers would not give it a chance, but we did – and sold out,” added Blackert.

He also revealed that Fisherman’s Central was the first store in the United States to stock BaitCloud’s innovative ‘Alka Seltzer-type bait’, which dissolves in the water, following the Canadian company’s debut at ICAST last year.

Buthe feels a little guilty about attending the show. He explained: “I am a fishing geek and just love the industry. It feels like a vacation for me. I go there to enjoy it because it is full of people with a passion for the sport.

“I feel selfish going, but it helps me keep my finger on the pulse of the industry, build up key relationships – and have fun at the same time.”

Despite the often cited reasons for not going to ICAST – time and expense – Blackert believes that smaller retailers miss a trick by not attending. “They can definitely steal a march on their opposition by stocking some of the great products that are launched there,” he concluded.

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