SMOTA Eyes Growth South of the Border

NEW YORK — The Shoe Market of the Americas has a new partner.

The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based trade show has signed on to be a member of South Florida’s largest operating foreign trade zone, the Miami Free Zone.

“Working with them will help us reach out to companies and individuals in the Caribbean, South and Central America,” said SMOTA Executive Director Beverlee Maier. “It’s an opportunity because [the MFZ] helps those companies overcome the expense of [entering the U.S. market by paying fewer duties].”

The MFZ is a federally approved trade zone, whose facilities process more than $1 billion worth of inbound and outbound transactions each year.

Maier said that SMOTA will be leveraging the facilities’ services going forward. In September, the MFZ will conduct seminars for exhibitors and retailers focused on doing business internationally, forwarding freight and getting product into Florida without paying duties.

“What we’re looking to do with our future markets is to tie in the relationship with the MFZ,” Maier said. “That’s where our direction will be going forward.”

Maier also is optimistic about this month’s edition of the SMOTA show, which will be held June 26-28. She said retailer pre-registration is up 4 percent over last year.

New brands exhibiting include Lisa for Donald J Pliner, Topsies, Bettie Page and Lady Couture.

“[Buyers] are still cautious, but they’re starting to get more comfortable spending their dollars,” Maier said. “[Retail] took a bit of a hit the last couple of years, but we have seen a turnaround and I do believe it can only go up from here.”