Text by Paul Bourdon | Photos by Simon Arendt @thesimanmanman
I’ve never been to a trade show. Let me rephrase that; I had never been to a trade show. This past weekend I got my first look at two different takes on what a trade show looks, and feels like. Last weekend in Denver there were two distinctly different trade shows taking place: Snowsports Industry of America (SIA) and Parts & Labor.
SIA is the long-running tried and tested true show. It’s literally a city block of everything snowsports related from skis and snowboards to industrial capacity tuning equipment, and snow boogey boards. The sea of exhibitors is seemingly endless, continuing on like some sort of maze, or what I’d imagine the labyrinth of alleys and passages in some far flung destination to be like: around every corner something new exists. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from SIA, but I was blown away at the sheer scale of the event. The scene had a very “official” feel to it, and it was readily apparent just how much money funnels through the snowsports industry. It kinda felt like a massive snowsports-only mall, but there was no penny fountain (coming SIA 18?).
Across town, in its first year, is Parts & Labor. The brainchild of Steven Kimura (Owner Operator / United Shapes) and Joe Suta (Nightmare), Parts & Labor is noticeably more intimate. Taking up maybe 10% of the footprint of SIA, P&L is focused solely on snowboarding. No tuning equipment, no GoPro display, no extras. Just snowboarding.
When I rolled into P+L for the setup day on Thursday morning, the space at Cluster Studios in north Denver had a long way go before it would be ready to host the event. The infrastructure for the display walls were still under construction but everyone involved chipped in a hand or tools here and there to make something which the snowboard community should be taking serious notice of. The vibe here is decidedly more casual – and maybe this is my bias talking – more close-knit.
The show opened on Friday as a few exhibitors put the finishing touches on their displays. Visitors came and went in waves on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday thanks to the free shuttle service between SIA and P+L. I tried to talk to as many people wearing badges from SIA as I could to get their impressions on this “other trade show.” Everyone I talked to had nothing but positive things to say and most agreed that the more informal, relaxed atmosphere of Parts & Labor was a refreshing change to the feel of SIA. That’s not to say P+L is perfect. It’s not. A few people mentioned they wished the show were closer to SIA’s location, while some exhibitors were a little disappointed that the turnout of interested shop owners and buyers at P+L was less than they had anticipated, but overall the response from everyone I talked to at the show was really positive and it was a repeated sentiment that if nothing else P+L got the vibe right. For the first year of an event taking on the colossus of the industry, I’d have to agree that Steven and Joe are onto something with Parts & Labor.
Parts & Labor ended on Sunday as it began: with community. All the exhibitors involved with the show sat with Joe and Steven in a round table discussion where every voice was heard. Concerns about the show overlapping with SIA were voiced. Ideas of how to improve the show for next year were discussed, as was our relationship as snowboarders with the industry in general. The discussion was forward thinking, and positive with an energy that everyone in the room could feel. Salty Peaks shop owner, Dennis Nazari said, “This is the re-birth of snowboarding.” and everyone in attendance agreed. Something special happened at Parts & Labor last weekend. It was the start of something different. It was a catalyst. It was an experiment; more than anything it was the snowboarding community at its best. I can’t wait to see what happens next year. For now, here are some photos by Simon Arendt from the first ever Parts and Labor.
The first indication you aren’t at SIA: Weed sponsors (and weed friendly shuttles). It’s Colorado after all.
Soul Motion. Powder shapes. Trending.
Stone zone. It was a very “green” tradeshow. It was mostly meetings in there. And maybe some rolling.
A PG-13 Venue. SEE films
Stinky Socks, included a Yobeat collab, seen second from the top right. Photo: Stinky.
Sure, there were some Hobos.
Neon lights, harkening back to Vegas times. Public
An intimate, enviroment, less driven by appointments.
Inside Parts and Labor Number 1.
Schemes of the Degenerati.
United Shapes, a product of one of the fine event organizers, Steven Kimura.
Mark Sullivan appears to have been a victim of second hand cannabis smoke.
The Industry roundtable, was in fact, rectangular.
When you just can’t get a hold of any dental floss.