Retailer Recap: ATA 2021 Online

We asked three veteran archery retailers: “How did your ATA 2021 Online show experience compare to past in-person ATA shows?” Here’s what they had to say.

Retailer Recap: ATA 2021 Online

Anthony Schmidt, La Crosse Archery, La Crosse, Wisconsin

We’ve attended the ATA Show annually since 2006. In 2020’s final months, ATA had to make a difficult decision regarding the 2021 ATA Show based on health concerns. I think they did the best they could given the circumstances. It’s always fun to attend the ATA Trade Show, but the online platform that ATA generated provided incredible value and convenience to retailers.

Although we didn’t get to handle and test new products, our manufacturer sales reps were vital in teaching us about new products via Zoom and FaceTime before the show. And, the ATA 2021 Online show put everything for every manufacturer in one format that was easy for me to navigate and saved me a ton of time. It was a slam dunk. In the past, manufacturer websites weren’t always updated to reflect new products. This year, I found that all manufacturer websites were updated with new products.

My feedback to ATA was to make sure the in-person show happens in 2022, but to supplement it with the online platform that we used this year. Constructively and organizationally, it’s better for the retailer to have this platform to work from before, during and after an ATA show. I believe that would be the ideal format for the show moving forward. It would allow dealers to use their time on the show floor to explore and dream, then tackle the tactical work and ordering online. I’m sure the online platform also helps the manufacturers communicate more effectively with retailers.


Philip Kepple, 4 Arrows Outdoors, Weedsport, New York

I really took advantage of the learning opportunities and jumped into as many of the forums as I could. I really appreciated some of the topics and key points that were addressed, and I found that part easy to navigate. For $79, it was well worth going into the Master Class Series. Now, I can go back and watch and re-watch that content any time.

Navigating the show deals was somewhat challenging and required more research and digging. Fortunately, some of my sales reps provided some information beforehand so I was better prepared. It was also challenging to learn about new products. Each manufacturer did its own thing; some did an excellent job, while others could’ve done better.

Plus, video content doesn’t replace the hands-on product experience that happens at the in-person ATA shows. Not only does it aid my purchasing decisions, but I can return to the shop informed and ready to tell my customers about my first-hand experiences with specific new products.

While my ATA 2021 Online experience was mostly positive, in no way does it replace the in-person show. Previous ATA shows have been extremely important in the survival and growth of my archery business. As a smaller dealer, it’s been extremely beneficial on the networking front and has opened new doors. You don’t get that in a virtual setting.

Moving forward, I think the ATA needs to combine the Master Class virtual learning with the in-person show format. At the physical show, you have to pick and choose which classes and seminars to attend. The Master Class solves that. The in-person show gives my business a vital jumpstart each year. I believe ATA should have an in-person convention supplemented with the Master Class online learning format. It would provide the best learning and buying experience yet.


Mark Copeland, Jay’s Sporting Goods, Inc., Gaylord, Michigan

I participated as much as I could. I signed up for the Master Class and carved out a fair amount of time to access on-demand content during the show times. But, to be honest with you, my overall experience reinforced to me why the face-to-face show is so important. It allows you to focus intently on all that is offered and take more away from it. For example, several times while I was logged in to the Master Class offerings, I had customers to address. I don’t want to call them distractions because they are my business, but the virtual show experience had me in a setting with everyday obligations. In other words, I wasn’t able to focus solely on learning and purchasing.

I really missed the physical touch aspect of the new products. I mean, how do you make an educated decision for your customers without handling products and test-shooting some of the bows? To learn about every new product during the online show, a dealer would have had to click on every single manufacturer link. That’s tough to do. Further, some of the new-product content was a bit marginal, although companies such as T.R.U. Ball did an exceptional job of providing good, informative content. Overall, that part of the online show was challenging. It was difficult for the ATA staff to pull off what they did on such short notice, and I’m happy with what the team accomplished. One extremely positive point about the online show is the ability to have learning opportunities archived. Now, a shop’s entire staff can engage and learn from the Master Class. That’s a huge asset to our training library. Still, I believe that the online show reaffirmed why the physical show is so important.

The 2022 ATA Trade Show will take place — in person! — January 7-9 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
The 2022 ATA Trade Show will take place — in person! — January 7-9 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky.


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