Expo ‘Producers’ Have a Hit on Their Hands

Adding to the excitement of Expo’s opening day, Jennifer Garay of Najac Vision Correction Center in Kew Gardens, N.Y., won the grand sweepstakes prize, a lease giveaway of a Mercedes Benz.
NEW YORK—Like a hit Broadway show, Vision Expo keeps packing them in. The basic formula—a mix of high quality continuing education and world class exhibits—remains the same. But both exhibitors and show attendees told the VM Show Daily, that the show, in its 26th year, remains fresh and influential to their business, as the pace of activity this weekend has been strong in both the style/fashion and technology arenas.

"The level of excitement and energy throughout the entire Javits Center has been outstanding over the last few days,” said Tom Loughran, vice president for Reed Exhibitions. “At presstime, our pre-audit numbers have us tracking more than 10 percent ahead of last year’s show. This reinforces the expanded layout for exhibits, which has been met with very successful results. We’ve seen increased traffic to all of our destinations, including the new French Loft on the Level 4 terrace and the co-location of the Lenses & Processing Technology, Low Vision, and Medical & Scientific Pavilions with Continuing Education on Level 1."

Although some exhibitors on Level 1 were initially concerned that attendee traffic in their area might be light, their fears were unfounded. “When I first saw the diagram of the show floor, I wasn’t sure if we had a good location,” said Robert Shanbaum of Ocuco. “However, it’s working out well. There are a lot of destination booths down here.”

Other vendors were also pleased with the turnout. “I’ve been to a bazillion of these shows, and Friday was the busiest day I can remember,” said Sid Moore of PFO Global. Adding to first day’s excitement was the announcement of the Vision Expo Sweepstakes winner. Jennifer Garay, an ophthalmologic assistant at Najac Vision Correction Center in Kew Gardens, N.Y., won the grand prize, a lease giveaway of a Mercedes Benz C-class automobile.

Peter Friedfeld of ClearVision Optical, observed that “the quality of this year’s attendees is excellent. Traffic has been very good. Starting at Vision Expo West last year, the shows have come back in a way they haven’t been in the last three years. Vision Expo East is keeping with that trend. People are coming here to buy, they’re looking for new products and there’s a real interest among our customers of what’s new.”

The return of the Underground and the Galleria to the North Hall for the second year pleased attendees such as Jean Miller of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “We spent Friday in The Underground looking at high-end frames. The area was very-well planned and easy to get around. We did end up picking up a new line.”

Debbi Cohen of Kid’s Specs in Overland Park, Kan., was also on the hunt for new frames. “Our business is 75 percent children, so we’re looking to pick up some new lines such as Crayola for kids and Steve Madden for tweeners,” said Cohen. Her business partner, Elizabeth Harrison, added, “We’re excited about the new Transitions Vantage variable polarized lens, because it will also be good for kids.”

Kim-Chi Pham, OD, of Modern Eyes Optometry, a medically-based practice located in a hospital setting in Virginia Beach, Va., said, “We came to add a couple of frame lines, particularly ones that are covered by vision insurance.” Pham’s husband and business partner, Rahim Kanji, OD, added, “We also came to meet vendors on the medical side. “We’re getting software updates for our existing equipment, like the iVue from OptoVue. We’re selling a lot of high definition lenses, so we’re also investing in technology in dispensary, such as Essilor’s Visioffice. It’s been a driving force in increasing revenues, and it justifies us charging a little more.” Patients are responding positively to the new technology, Dr. Kanji noted.

Lloyd Yazbek, owner of Central Optical, a wholesale lab in Youngstown, Ohio, also came to Expo in search of new technology for processing digital lenses. “Our objective is to look at the next generation of equipment as far as where surfacing is going, where edging is going, and looking at the latest lens technology. There seem to be a lot of boutique lens design companies. Everybody’s coming out with a private-label product.”

To read a digital version of Today's Vision Expo Show Daily, sponsored by Zeiss, go to the Vision Monday website.