Why Debut Everything at SHOT Show
Every year, SHOT Show takes place in January. 2018’s show was the 40th anniversary, with over 2000 total exhibitors (when you include those from the Supplier Showcase), and approximately 64,500 attendees. Many of those exhibitors use SHOT (which stands for Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show – so not just a gun show) as their venue to debut new products. That has typically been the case for TOPS as well. Pretty much everything that TOPS releases each year is first debuted at SHOT Show.
Why? There are several shows throughout the year that would work just as well, right? For example, the IWA show in Germany. What better place to debut a European inspired design? Or what about the NRA Convention? There are tens of thousands of consumers that attend that show each year. Of course, you can’t forget about the BLADE Show. I mean, it’s a show specifically for knives. Why wouldn’t you debut your new items there too? (Spoiler alert: We debut knives there too) SHOT Show is the place for multiple reasons.
Time of Year
What better time to let your customers know of your plans than in the first month of the year? The SHOT Show is planned long enough after the holidays that it doesn’t interfere with them, but early enough in the year that it’s a great outlet to show off what you plan to do. So for that reason SHOT makes perfect sense to debut the new lineup.
The amount of media presence there is astounding. No other show has been able to provide the same level of coverage by writers, TV personalities, radio hosts, podcasters, bloggers, vloggers, social media influencers, etc. No other show has been able to provide the quality of media coverage either. So the same product debuted at a different show may not receive the same amount of attention as one debuted at SHOT. Especially in today’s “connected” world, the media outlets reporting on SHOT Show are able to disseminate video and pictures immediately. So even though the SHOT Show isn’t open to the general public, people can still see what’s happening without having to fly to Vegas and risk getting the SHOT Show plague. If you've been to SHOT, you know what I'm talking about.
Dealers / Retailers
TOPS is focused on manufacturing top-notch knives and tools. TOPS is not as focused on selling them directly to customers. That’s where retailers come in. Because the SHOT Show caters so well to retailers, and those are the people that make up the vast majority of TOPS’ sales throughout the year, it’s the perfect venue to show off existing products and to show them what’s coming to keep them excited. This allows TOPS to focus on manufacturing quality and allows retailers to do what they do best and sell those quality tools. There is no other show throughout the year where TOPS (or any other manufacturer) has as much direct, face-to-face interaction with the people that directly sell their product to consumers.
Some of the knives that TOPS debuts at SHOT have already been tested and are basically ready to be made and sold, but there are always at least a couple on the table that they would like to get feedback on. Due to the large presence of military, LEO, first responders, and other professionals that attend that show, TOPS is able to get feedback on features or details of different models that affect the product that is eventually released.
Now that SHOT Show 2018 is over and 15 plus new models were introduced by TOPS, it is time for the long wait for each of them to become available to the public. TOPS’ typically does not release more than one model at a time. TOPS prefers to release models throughout the year. That means there is always something new out there. This year’s new products ranged from a tomahawk/ax weighing over 3 pounds, to a nessmuk-style hunting knife, to a “3-finger” karambit, to a flipper folder (a collaboration with Maserin Knives from Italy), to an actual Chef’s knife. With such a variety from TOPS’ 2018 lineup, there is going to be something for everyone regardless of your background.
With all of that said, TOPS does debut new items outside of the SHOT Show from time to time. For example, El Chappo, which is a cleaver that was released in February 2018, was debuted at the BLADE Show 2017, and TOPS does have at least a couple of new products planned for a BLADE 2018 debut as well.