2023 NASGW Expo Overpowers Power Outage


A common sight during the 2023 NASGW Expo: Business getting done throughout the halls of the
Greater Columbus Convention Center.

The 2023 NASGW Expo & Annual Meeting — held in Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 25–27 — started out with a bang, literally.

A local transformer blew early Tuesday afternoon, the eve of the show, which knocked out power to the Greater Columbus Convention Center and adjacent hotels for several hours. Pivoting quickly, the NASGW team shut down the exhibit hall and registration as exhibitors were in the midst of setting up their booths and swiftly communicated this decision and subsequent updates to attendees via email.

Fortunately, the delay caused by the outage did little to derail what was a robust showing on behalf of the industry at the Expo. When the doors opened at 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, it was quickly “business as usual,” with attendees and exhibitors engaged in business dealings.

Kenyon Gleason, NASGW president, praised his team’s response to the unexpected delay caused by the power outage and the flexibility exhibited by exhibitors.

“Given the fact we had a power outage and had to change our schedule at the last minute, everybody has been super gracious — understanding we did the best we could with what we couldn’t control,” he said. “A few people complimented us on our ability to make a decision, stick to it and communicate it. They really understood where we were at, what they could expect and how they could make adaptations on their own to do the business they needed to do.”

Good Vibes Needed

In some ways, the delayed caused by the blown transformer fueled “the buzz” among Expo attendees.

“The energy here at the Expo, beyond the craziness we experienced with the power outage, has been phenomenal,” Gleason said.

Gleason estimates there were 300 to 400 more attendees at the Expo than what had been forecasted, which further propelled the event.

“I’ve had a number of attendees come up and tell me as they’re walking around they feel a pretty good energy on the floor with sales and that sort of thing,” he said.

After a down year, the positive vibes generated at this year’s Expo came at a good time — especially as uncertainty caused by events in the Middle East created a fresh wave of demand across the industry.

“Clearly, this has been a year that’s down over some of those really high watermarks we’ve experienced over the past couple years,” Gleason observed. “But not everyone is feeling it — it’s more by segment, with some being more impacted than others.”

Gleason continued, “We’re still going in a very good direction, and certainly over these past three weeks sales are up for unfortunate reasons — but definitely things are moving really quickly again right now.”

This echoed similar sentiments to what I heard in conversations with numerous exhibitors and wholesalers on the show floor. Most reported a noticeable, sudden spike in sales this month. How long the wave lasts is anyone’s guess, but brisk sales look to continue as we enter the year-end season.

NASGW’s “speed dating” series has received a fantastic reception from first-time attendees
and distributors alike. Here, Victor Arms Founder Heather Victor showcases her company’s
product line to a group of wholesalers.

“Speed Dating” Success

In last week’s story previewing the 2023 Expo, Gleason shared the “speed dating” series — where first-time exhibitors get a couple minutes to pitch their products to a collection of distributors — would remain a fixture of the show moving forward.

This year’s event confirmed it even more, with Gleason estimating participation was about a third larger than it was in 2022.

“We absolutely love this program,” he said, “and our distributors and new exhibitors do, as well. This format gives the new exhibitors the ability to make an elevator pitch to 15 or 20 distributors sitting there in the audience — it’s their chance to get their attention. For those who did it, I heard nothing but positive feedback.”

(I attended the “speed dating” series event on Thursday morning before the show, and as you can see in the image above, it was well attended. I had the opportunity to talk with both first-time exhibitors and distributors, who praised the ability of this program to accelerate new partnerships.)


During the Expo, NASGW hosted its annual SCOPE update luncheon, which was also widely attended. Easton Kuboushek, NASGW director of data programs, and Tom Hopper, NASGW senior data analyst, shared updates on the program’s growth and success.

SCOPE CLX — which utilizes data from some of the top point-of-sale platforms across the industry to aggregate actual sales from retail locations — currently has 700 brick-and-mortar stores sharing data thanks to the help of point-of-sale providers Celerant, Orchid Technology and Coreware. Those who attended the annual update luncheon saw retail trends of 2023 compared to 2022, and how significantly global events of the past three weeks have impacted sales. Revolvers, lever-action rifles and field shotguns have experienced notable upswings so far this year, the SCOPE CLX data revealed.

Kuboushek and Gleason predicted SCOPE CLX will cross the 1,000-dealer threshold in 2024.

“We started with just a couple hundred dealers, and it went up to 400 pretty quickly and now we’re up to 700. So the data set keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Gleason said. “It’s amazing information, even at a smaller scale — still important, still valuable. The more we get, the more robust and complete a picture a manufacturer or a subscriber can get. Retail point-of-sale partners are able to take that information and share it back with their retail connections as well, which helps them.”

Gleason underscored the importance of collaboration to make this program a success.

“We couldn’t do this without our partners who subscribe and help to finance it, those who provide data, those who gather and input it and, obviously, we couldn’t do it without the great team we have at NASGW. But we’re not done yet, we see a lot of room for further growth,” he said.

NASGW's Easton Kuboushek delivers remarks to attendees of the annual SCOPE update
during the 2023 NASGW Expo.

Mark Your Calendars

At the close of the Expo on Oct. 27, Gleason said it would be mere days before his team prepares for the 2024 Expo, which will be held a week earlier in the calendar (Oct. 15–18) next year in Kansas City. For those looking further ahead, the 2025 Expo will be held in Grapevine, Texas (also in October).

For more info, visit www.nasgwexpo.org.