An annual trade show for the buyers and sellers of logoed promotional products, aka swag (Stuff.We.All.Get), gathered at the Fort Worth Convention Center the first week of February to browse a packed show floor and see the latest advertising specialties. In 2017, Texas alone accounted for $2.95 billion in sales of promotional products, and the South leads the nation in total sales of logoed items companies, schools and non-profits typically give away to promote their company, brand or event.

The show, hosted by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), attracted over 4,300 distributors and suppliers from throughout the $24.7 billion North American promotional industry. ASI moved its show from Dallas to Fort Worth after hosting it in that city every year since 2003, citing a more walkable downtown, exciting restaurant scene, hotel affordability, easier drive in from near-by airports and variety of tourist activities. Attendance at the new Fort Worth show was up 17 percent over Dallas, with exhibitor attendance up 12 percent.

The Fort Worth show attracted business people from 43 states and four countries, along with 724 companies from Texas, 200 women-owned and 185 minority-owned companies.

The highlight of the three-day show was a keynote on Feb. 6 with former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Hager, a Today Show correspondent who is the front-runner to replace the retiring morning show host, Kathie Lee Gifford. Bush and Hager bantered with each other while enjoying an easy rapport with the moderator of the Q&A, ASI CEO Timothy M. Andrews, who asked the mother-daughter duo about their experiences living in the White House, working in the family “business” of politics, writing bestselling books together – and their favorite promotional products.

Bush and Hager wowed the packed house of small business owners and entrepreneurs with their deep appreciation for the opportunities they’ve enjoyed as part of a political dynasty, along with the special privilege of helping others succeed.

“We’re such a fortunate, wealthy nation,” said Bush, who works tirelessly on global healthcare, empowering women in emerging democracies, education reform and supporting America’s military. “Every generation should have the opportunity to be educated. Parents should set the expectation early that their children will go to school and stay in school. Kids deserve the chance to learn and pursue their dreams.”

ASI’s Rita Ugianskis-Fishman said she was thrilled with attendee response to the move from Dallas to Fort Worth. “I was blown away by the attendance numbers, the growth in exhibitor participation and the incredibly positive feedback I’ve gotten all week from people loving our very first Fort Worth show,” said Ugianskis-Fishman, senior vice president and general manager of ASI’s show business. “It’s always a little bit of a risk moving a popular show, and I sincerely appreciate everyone’s willingness to try something new and couldn’t be happier that out members are as thrilled as we are with the move.”

“Based on what the marketing agency for the city of Fort Worth calculated, we’re estimating the economic impact our show had on the city at roughly $2.8 million, considering we had 4,500 people here for 3-4 days, many of whom overnighted in hotels, ate three meals a days and visited stores, bars and tourist attractions,” said ASI CEO Timothy M. Andrews. “The people of Fort Worth and the convention center treated us exceptionally well and our attendees raved about the city. We’ll definitely be back next year.” – Dawn Shurmaitis. Special to FWBP

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