We've been pretty busy, so let's fill you in!
Reflections on The HQ Event & CHAMPS
Most people would say that any more than two days in Las Vegas is too long. How about two weeks!? For some of us on the #WindshipTeam, two weeks crashing in one of the hottest places in the country mid-summer with not one, but TWO trade shows, became a reality last month in Sin City.
At times it did feel a bit like Fear & Loathing, Hunter S. Thompson coming back post-mortem poking around to play a dirty trick on us all or to try to provide us with a mere glimpse of the depravity that comes with prolonged stays in the Rogue City of Lights.
Seriously though, it was a VERY long trip.
Astoundingly, we powered through the sometimes uncertain environments that Vegas so generously offers to out-of-towners. Shuffling feet, crawling through airport security to go home with parched tongues, empty wallets, bruised egos, and broken spirits, craving a homecooked meal and a dark room to sleep in for about a week.
Windship Trading: A Touring Trade Show Troupe
We survived two back-to-back tradeshows, and I live to write about it today. We always have a lot of moving parts at these events, comes with the territory of being a major smoke shop distributor. We worked hard, played hard, and kicked ass at both trade shows with the help of our fantastic team, vendors, and partnerships.
If you remember, back in March, The first-ever HQ Event (and first live trade show post-Covid) was held in New Orleans, followed by a delayed Winter CHAMPS show in Orlando. Fast forward a few months, and by July, we're on the road again for another mini tradeshow tour. This time heading to Sin City, our industry's go-to work and playground.
The HQ Event – Caesar's Palace
Caesar's Palace is an excellent place for a tradeshow. The Romanesque architecture, classically themed artwork, and white marble columns were a great backdrop with only one setback- the place is MASSIVE. I don't know how many times we walked the wrong way attempting to get back to the event in the corner of the Julius Tower, one of the many in the hotel casino. But, once we navigated our way up and down the long hallways, short staircases, and tall escalators a few times, we got to know the layout pretty well.
At The HQ Event, we premiered several new brands and products and launched a new project steered by the humble+ Social Awareness Committee (+hSAC). Here are the highlights of our first summer trade show for the smoke shop industry.
New Faces and New Friends at our Spotlight Podiums
We've been onboarding many new brands and adding a ton of new gear to our product portfolio—many of which we picked up right before the show. Hitoki, Revelry, Solopipe, and Myster / Octave (sister companies) rocked it at the spotlight podiums. All of their products are amazing, from Hitoki's laser combustion water pipe, to Solopipe's new electric lighter and pipe combo, Octave's Terp Timer featuring a wireless thermal sensor, Myster's sophisticated stash stray, and Revelry's awesome backpacks and storage.
We're always grateful to be working with like-minded individuals and companies, and everyone working for our new brands was an absolute gem. We couldn't ask for better support from our vendors.
Partnering with our First Non-Profit Organization
For the first time, we've aligned with a non-profit organization to further our mission to positively impact our industry by stepping up as advocates for social equity. We've created a mentorship program to provide entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their talents, products, and enthusiasm for the ever-evolving and ever-important cannabis industry.
We've partnered with The National Diversity & Inclusion Cannabis Alliance (NDICA), and their organization has been our guide and expert in the evolution of our mentor program. Based in Los Angeles with Chapters across the country in Fresno, Chicago, Oklahoma City, and Columbus, Ohio, NDICA provides many resources to individuals representing BIPOC communities and beyond.
Efforts include setting up expungement clinics for those looking to remove past charges (usually cannabis) from their records. Other programs include education, vocational training, internships, youth empowerment, and community outreach.
My Bud Vase's Fabulous Mermaids & The Neptune Pool Party
My Bud Vase, likes to get creative, which you can tell by checking out their beautiful collection of uniquely designed water-pipes-disguised-as-vases. And it wouldn't be a trade show anymore with the MBV creator Doreen's entourage of ganja mermaids by her side. The My Bud Vase mermaids joined us once again at their spotlight podium in the booth, attracting curious buyers and mermaid-lovers to our booth.
After the show's first day, Windship Trading co-sponsored the After Party at the Neptune Pool with TAAT and My Bud Vase. So, yes. More mermaids! Good drinks, great food, and even better people came together for a mellow bacchanal before releasing us into the wilds of Vegas for the next ten days or so.
CHAMPS Trade Show
After some of the Windship crew stayed for the weekend in between trade shows, the following Monday, we were back at it. This time we were gearing up for the CHAMPS annual Summer Trade Show- the first one since Covid began.
Biggest CHAMPS Ever?
This CHAMPS show could arguably have been the biggest ever. I know that in the almost ten years I've been attending events like these, I've never seen a show this huge. If you're familiar with the setup, the event was in the South Hall, but not just half of it like usual. From front to back, spanning almost a full mile, booths of all shapes and sizes filled the hall farther than the eye could see, peddling innovative new brands, products, and classic smoke shop staples to the expansive counterculture industry.
There was an estimated seven thousand smoke shops registered to attend the four-day trade show. We were smack dab in the middle of it with our biggest booth to date, with front row seats to the Champs Glass Games.
Introducing More New Brands and Products
Because we anticipated this show to be much larger, we decided to go all-out with our Spotlight Podiums. Showcasing more than ten brand new brands and vendors, as well as our road dogs Dip Devices and our friends at XVape, our booth was popping with new business and intrigued buyers.
There are so many new products in our lineup to list here, but here's a rundown of our featured vendors at CHAMPS.
New Products from Popular Brands
The shout-outs above do not include the vendors and brands already mentioned in this article. Hitoki, Revelry, Solopipe, Myster / Octave, and My Bud Vase were also with us at this show.
Cameos & Photo-Ops
The Windship booth received a visit from Tommy Chong to introduce his new Aria Vaporizer collab with XVape. He came for a quick cameo, autograph signing, and photo-op, then disappeared into his mob of a posse down the long halls to do it again at another booth. One minute he was there, the next- up in smoke.
Young Dirty Bastard also made an appearance to help promote the new Wu-Tang Accessories brand of rolling trays and papers, and Floyd Mayweather, Sr. even popped in for a minute.
Freeway Rick, of course, was hangin' with us at both shows to represent and support NDICA, as he is the VP of Community Outreach. At CHAMPS, he also came to promote his memoir and a new line of gummies.
Humble's Mentorship Program
As mentioned, we've partnered with the NDICA to offer unique opportunities to entrepreneurs, brands, and companies representing BIPOC communities through the Humble Mentorship Program. If you know of anyone you know might be a good fit, please reach out. We're looking to impact our industry positively, and we need inspiring people to do this with, so let's get to it! Apply to participate today.
Learn more about the program and our goals on our blog.
For the Windship Team, it's back to the grind.
It certainly was an action-packed July between the two back-to-back trade shows, onboarding many new brands and products and launching our mentor program. I think we're all down for a little "normalcy" in our daily routine after two long but successful weeks in Las Vegas.
We won't be attending the next CHAMPS in Atlantic City later this month, but we'll see you again soon!