Variety is the spice of life at the world’s largest trade show
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The scale and variety of the world’s largest fishing trade show ensures that ICAST is unique and offers different business opportunities to the thousands of varied retailers who pass through its doors.
For Frank Hommema, owner of Port Charlotte, Florida-based Fishin’ Franks, ICAST ticks the boxes on many levels. Be it finding a trend-setting product, cutting a make-or-break deal or hanging out with the legends of the sport, the show is ‘one I must attend’, according to the owner of the retailer.
A veteran of more than 30 shows, Hommema says that ICAST is getting back to its heyday of the mid to late 90s when they were ‘monstrous’ events before the financial meltdown that affected North America and the rest of the world.
First and foremost, ICAST is renowned for its vast array of products and Hommema agrees that the tackle on display is impressive. “It is great to pick up on trends that are happening in different regions of the US and seeing if they have any relevance for us. It is an opportunity to pick up on those and become a trendsetter in Florida rather than a follower.”
As a high-volume store, Fishin’ Franks sells more than $2 million worth of tackle a year, so striking deals with manufacturers is high on Hommema’s list of priorities at the show. He said: “Sealing one great deal at ICAST can make or break your year. It is the only place where you can meet all your suppliers – and new ones – in one place and talk business.
“If you can agree on one great deal and discover a best-selling product over the three days you will have had a tremendously successful show and it will have been well worth the effort.”
During his visits to ICAST, Hommema says that he has met some of the legends of the industry, citing meetings with Dick Henry of Big Rock Sports, Jimmy Houston and Bill Dance among others. “It is so exciting to talk to the people who have run factories and decided the fate of the fishing tackle industry. The event attracts all the big names in the trade and it is great to talk to the people who actually invented the tackle you are selling.”
Creating relationships is core to any business and Hommema says that ICAST plays an important part in maintaining and nurturing a successful partnership. One example of this, he says, is his bond with manufacturing giant, Pure Fishing, and representatives of its iconic PENN reel brand in particular.
He said: “Since it was taken over by Newell Brands a couple of years ago, Pure Fishing has been amazing and a stunning company to work with. It is one of a rare breed that is thoroughly committed to the independents and keeping us relevant. I have been blown away by its approach and being part of the PENN family is the biggest thing that that ever happened to me. It has reshaped my thoughts on the industry.
‘I would not have formed this relationship if it had not been for ICAST. There would have been no chance of me meeting them anywhere else. ICAST gave me that opportunity.”