Susie and I have just returned from the 15th Annual Kite Trade Association Convention just outside Las Vegas. This year we invited Al Sparling to join us in our booth to help handle the throngs of store owners asking questions. It was quite a week.
People looking for trends in the industry would quickly notice that the big guys are getting bigger. There were 121 booths in the show, but 42 of them were taken up by Go Fly A Kite, New Tech, Nova, and Premier. Avia, Flying Wings, and Spectra also had four spaces each.
'Gomberg' took up two spaces to promote line art, tubes, tails and inflatables. We also used the high ceilings to showcase our spectacular Windfeather Banners. The improved Ringmaster Pole was a big hit with its stronger fiberglass base, solid shatter-resistant tip, and aluminum (not plastic) base.
So in addition to the bigger firms strengthening their position, another trend is their working with 'name' designers to develop new products. GKPI started doing this several years back. Then two years ago, Joel Scholz signed with Go Fly. Ray and Jeanne Merry are working with them now and there are reports that Randy Tom, recently of Spectra, will be signing soon.
Martin Lester, Dodd Gross, Kathy Goodwind, Steve LaPorte and Martin Blais are working with New Tech. And Premier has signed Ron Gibian, several Europeans, and even the ghost of Reza.
The result is both good and bad news. More serious kites have suddenly become more affordable. But they are no longer made by more serious kitemakers. Does a Go Fly Flamingo perform as well as a Scholz original?? Is a Chinese Koch as special as one made by Willi himself? The serious kite market is a small one, and while fliers may appreciate a dramatic drop in prices, one result is that independent kitemakers are quickly becoming an endangered species. That is very unfortunate.
Even at GKPI, we've sought agreements to make some pieces in Asia in order to create more competitive prices. But we've also worked to produce new designs rather than mass produce existing ones. We worry about the long term effect on the kite industry. And we worry that lower priced large kites are now reaching less experienced fliers. Do we really need $150 giant deltas? Sometimes the enthusiast that can afford to buy a big kite, can't really afford to fly one. By that, we mean that lower prices can tend to put big kites in the hands of less accomplished fliers. We urge other manufacturers and retailers to follow our lead in producing support materials to help fliers have a safe and satisfying kite experience.
Meanwhile, Gomberg Kite Productions continues to set trends for the trade. We're proud to be in a leadership position, even if that means some other firms have us in their sights. And we have a new slogan! Buy a cool new design now from GKPI, or you can wait two years and buy a cheap copy from Premier...
We're not talking variations on a design. We're talking the same product in different sizes or colors. Examples??
We think creativity and originality is important. We pride ourselves on finding new designs and promoting new designers. We also pride ourselves on our support for the sport and hobby, our performances at festivals, and the education programs we provide.
So don't expect Gomberg Kites to disappear. We're working harder than ever to produce new creative products, superior quality and service, and better pricing. And you get custom colors, too!
GKPI -- we're more than just the Pre-Premier Kite Company..... ;)
More news -- and opinions next week!
You've been waiting for this one!
Our most popular line art design is the quirky Spikey Ball Tube. The usual price is $75 each, but through the end of January, we'll take 20% off and sell them for just $60. We'll also mark Triple Pillows down from $50 to $40.
Meanwhile, there are just ten days until Kites on Ice. If you need Ice Screws, call us ASAP. And remember to dress real warm.
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