January 21
KTA Show in Clearwater Florida

Susan and I are just home from the annual trade show organized by the Kite Trade Association. Of course, because this is a "wholesale" show, the public isn't allowed inside. Stores come to order products. So everyone now wants to know what we saw, what's new, and what there was to get excited about.

When you have a booth at a show like this, it is hard to see much of anything. For weeks you struggle to prepare information on your own new products, print a wholesale catalog, and plan the layout of your exhibit. How do we display a fifty foot watermelon in a 10x10 booth anyway??

From the minute you arrive you are running. You set-up, change for the reception, and then head to the bar to try and get some real business done. When the Show opens at eight the next morning, you are already hoarse from shouting over the band. You spend ten hours standing, talking to two people at once, and wondering what the competition is doing. Then you head for dinner with good friends and good customers, and then back to the bar.

Gomberg Booth

The focus is on *business* and we are busier than at the AKA convention if that were possible to imagine. And the plain fact is that it is great fun. Exhausting, but still fun.

What did we see?? We saw the big guys -- Go Fly, Premier, and rising-star New Tech maneuvering around each other struggling to maintain or increase market share. We saw the stores - or at least the ones smart enough to show up -- focus on the entry level customer who comes to the beach for a day of fun and wants to do it for under $50.

We saw just a couple of kite-surf products, suggesting that more were being sold at different shows.

We saw incremental improvements in sport kites, but fewer of the high-performance models and more entry level kites. We saw lots of toys and sun-catchers, and boomerangs, but thankfully few yo-yos.

And we saw precious little that looked like it would interest the more ardent flier or draw more serious people into the sport for a long-term commitment.

Gomberg Booth

There were, of course, exceptions. Prism, Revolution, FlyingWings, HQ, New Tech and SkyBurner offered good new multi-line performers.

Prism Reza/GoFly Gibean/Premier

GoFly and Premier both had large (20 foot) deltas at attractive prices. More of Joel's kites are out from Go Fly and both are doing designs by Reza. Premier also has a Gibian series now. That means more "art" kites at lower prices. And there were a lot of well-made, attractive roks that will retail in your local store for under $100.

New Revs GoFly Raptor

Of interest to Peter Lynn aficionados is the new Premier PL Bear. Their "giant" is half the size of the GKPI "mini" but it is also half the money. And to those of you interested in the details, I can tell you that because of our special relationship with Peter, Gomberg Kites will be distributing the Premier Bear on both a wholesale and retail basis when it becomes available.

The one thing that did definitely catch our attention were the Fridolin single-liners. We brought home the Buzz-Saw, Ship, and Bobber with plans to add them to the web page in the next few days.

These are exactly the kind of finely-engineered kites that more advanced fliers crave. To get an idea about what I mean, click here for a short movie.

Freido Kites

Susie and I finished up the five-day show, packed everything for the flight home, and then spent an enjoyable evening napping in our hotel room. We were *beat*. But we were also pleased with another year's confirmation that we are holding a small but important niche in this curious industry, providing unique designs, large showpieces, custom colors (at no extra charge), and serious lifters to dedicated kiters.

The following morning we drove south for the opening of the Treasure Island Stunt Kite Championships. Our flight was at 2 pm so we only had an hour to visit. And we probably looked like real-estate agents, out there on the beach in our traveling clothes. But it was still good to see actual fliers having fun, instead of focused on prices, deliveries, and discounts.

Treasure Island

We have two quick weeks at home and then off to Kites on Ice. Here's hoping it is cold in Wisconsin so we can get a good thick surface to fly on. See you out there!!

We brought the new Starburst out for a maiden flight in Clearwater and absolutely knocked people over with it.

Because each spike is about three feet deep, the Starburst has a very dramatic presence unlike anything else we've seen on a kiteline. It turns powerfully but smoothly in the wind. Check out the video to get the full impact.

Remember that we can do these in custom colors. I've already got a black and red set on order.

Starburst

Last time we put something new on sale, someone asked if we were having trouble selling them. No. Our strategy is to get a few in the air so people can see them, and we implement that strategy by discounting prices for regular readers for a limited time. Obviosly it pays to check the Update each week.

The Starburst-12 sells for $175 and the double-size Starburst-24 for $350. Buy one before February 1, and we'll take 20% off.

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