A Look Back to CHAMPS Las Vegas, February 2017
By, Bernie Boulders
This year’s winter show in Las Vegas was a benchmark for the CHAMPS team. This was one of the most successful shows ever. The team at CHAMPS was super happy to see many old faces, as well as a whole new school of store owners, excited about the industry. With over 220,000sq feet of booths and thousands of buyers roaming the aisles, it was by far one of the best this writer has seen.
From day one you could tell it was gonna be good. There was a huge crowd at the door anxious to be let in to start the task of “seeing everything.” This year, seeing everything might take a little while. It was the biggest, fullest CHAMPS show ever. From top to bottom everything you needed for a Smoke or Vape shop was represented. Big companies like Glow Industries and Greenlane were there to fulfill the basic needs of any shop as well as Glass artists like Turtle, Kristian Merwin, AKM and Ickie were there, judging the competition and celebrating their previous Glass Games Victories with beautiful new works for the stores to take home. There was plenty of everything for every store.
Alongside all these booths and all these buyers was 2 separate rings with 35 professional glass artists, all blowing masterpieces in the Glass Games Masters Final. The culmination of a year’s worth of Glass Games, the Glass Games are held at every CHAMPS Event. This year’s winner of the $10,000 Grand Prize was none other than one of Arizona’s Finest, Hendy!
Artists from all over the world attend CHAMPS and enter a series of contests and skill challenges to see who wins their way into the Masters. 100’s of glassblowers enter each year, in the end, 35 are left to compete. They work for 2 days in an all out blow-a-thon vying to win over $60,000 in cash and prizes. It is by far the biggest glass event of the year and the biggest payout of any event held. The next event in Atlantic City is the Emerging Artist Invitational. This is for artists that have never taken the chance to enter the Glass Games and showcase their style to the world.
Shops from all around the world come to CHAMPS to get the inside on all the upcoming trends and the latest in technology. I came across some cool fellas from Switzerland, Germany, Japan, and Australia!
The CHAMPS Team loves to give away money, so they didn’t stop with the artist they also gave to the shops! They gave the crew over at Mojo’s Smokes and Gifts of St. George, Utah, $5000 cash, cold hard cash! Just for showing up… Yes, $5000 just for showing up. We all know that $5000 can make $5000 more! CHAMPS gives away thousands of dollars to stores at every show. Every hour CHAMPS gave a store a goody box full of $2500 of inventory shipped directly to their store so no inconvenience of getting it home! They truly understand that the stores drive the industry and if we keep them in business the industry will continue to grow.
In all the years I have been attending shows, this may well have been one of my all time favorite. Shops should definitely attend next time or attend one of the more regional shows close to you, like Atlantic City NJ, Denver CO, and Orlando FL.