Thursday of this week will mark my 20th year of visiting trade shows in California. Back in 1997, the skate universe was a vastly different place. As I recall, when it came to longboard companies, there were only Sector 9 and Gravity at the Action Sports Retailer Show (aka ASR). The show was busy and intense. I was like a kid in a candy store. I clearly remember meeting up with some of my skate heroes. Twenty years ago, the skate industry was a big part of the ASR Show and over the next few years, it morphed into a nuclear arms race for many companies Many skate companies competed fiercely for the attention of retailers and at one point, booths took on the size of condo’s. It was a surreal experience walking around such enormous structures. At one point, I heard a certain shoe company dropped over $750,000 on their booth. Eventually, the ASR show unraveled due to a number of circumstances. It’s hard to pin-point anything specific. A start-up show called Agenda hired limos and ferreted customers to an alternate universe of small tables and a more grassroots vibe. Adding to the mix was another skate show called Crossroads that disrupted things to a level that few could have predicted. The sense was that ASR was too big to fail…but it failed it did. Over the past 19 or so years I have always looked forward to the trade show in January. For one thing, it gets me well away from the misery of the poor weather here in Toronto. But more importantly, it is the opportunity to reconnect with friends and strategize for the upcoming year. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much of a documented history to the ASR show. There might be a photo or two out there but it’s pretty slim pickens. Here’s a memory that might freak you out!