Heart In Dayton

Dayton, Ohio-based DNA Distribution gave mad love to retailers this Valentine’s Day weekend at its first-ever open house held at its command headquarters on February 15 and 16.

And despite the weekend being a victim of both the worst snowstorm of the winter and a rodeo convention, over 100 retailers from all over the U.S. and Canada arrived smiling.

“We’re the largest manufacturer in the Midwest, and so we got the shops to come out here and see the facility,” says Chris Carter, owner and president of DNA and its brands: Alien Workshop, Habitat, Seek, and Reflex. “It’s a cool way to say thanks to all of the dealers, and I’m really impressed with the turnout,” he adds.

The event offered retailers special deals such as scaled discounts and closeout merchandise, as well as the opportunity to handpick their order, have it packed immediately, and then “cash ‘n’ carry” it away.

In addition, retailers and visitors alike could check out the facility, meet teamriders, and watch the new Emerica video at a premiere of This Is Skateboarding.

While most shops would consider that enough incentive to make the trek to Dayton in midwinter, DNA made the deal for shops even better by offering a travel allowance, complimentary hotel accommodations, meals, and local transportation-including an airport shuttle service. And it’s almost baffling that all this luxury for retailers was done at a cost less than what it would be to attend ASR. “Without a doubt, it was cheaper to do the open house than go to ASR,” says Carter.

Dave Yun of Small Empire skate shop traveled from Ledgewood, New Jersey to attend the open house: “It was definitely good, and because DNA covered it, it was worth it. It’s better than going to a trade show.”

Joe Varricchio of The Shred Shed skate shop in West Palm Beach, Florida says the open house was great and exactly how he anticipated it would be. “I kind of had an idea of how they (DNA) did business with the way their warehouse was organized,” says Varricchio, “and that’s exactly how it was, with the way you could walk down the aisles and find everything so conveniently-decks and wheels all stacked and organized.

“Going to this open house was a must. My journey was a little bit more than most guys’, but is was definitely worthwhile,” Varricchio adds.

Another shop that made the trek to attend the open house is Beyond Image, from both their Houston, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona locations. Matt Rivas, shop manager and buyer, came out from the Houston store, shares Varricchio’s satisfaction with the organization of the warehouse and event: “Going and meeting the sales reps and seeing the pros was all really cool. We were treated really well, and all around it was really nice.”

And the open house’s appeal wasn’t limited to retailers attending from far away. Even local shops were more than satisfied with the event. “I think this is awesome,” says Jerry George of Ohio Surf and Skate, a shop with locations in both Dayton and Beavercreek. “It’s one of the best jobs, and the deals are killer.”

DNA Distribution hasn’t been in attendance at ASR for its past two shows. Last September the company joined forces with San Diego-based Tum Yeto to hold the successful Coup D’├ętat event at the San Diego Children’s Museum across the street from the convention center where ASR was being held. At this February’s Long Beach ASR show, neither Tum Yeto nor DNA Distribution bothered with even an anti-trade-show event-DNA opted instead to hold an open house three weeks later.

Tony Heitz, the team manager at DNA Distribution, was pleased with the idea of inviting retailers to Dayton for the event: “It reminds me of the Cow Skates shows in the late 80s. The best part of it is that these things are 100-percent skateboarding, and there are no distractions-skateboarding only.”

To back this, while in the midst of an interview with SKATE Biz, an attendee interrupted Carter: “Where’s the bar?”

“We don’t mix skateboarrding and alcohol here,” said Carter.

Heitz comments on a general growing distaste for ASR: “Occasionally some original ideas come out, but generally it’s pretty much the same-if you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all. Something like this offers the one-on-one interaction with everyone and makes it all easier.”