Holy 4X! B.A.T.M.A.N. Closing!

by MR Magazine Staff

NEW YORK – B.A.T.M.A.N.’s show this weekend in Orlando, Fla., will be its last.

Jeff Yunis, owner of Specialty Trade Shows, which has operated the Big & Tall show for 25 years, told MRketplace.com Thursday that he’s elected to close his men’s show after its two-day run, beginning this Sunday, at the Marriott Downtown Orlando Hotel. Instead, he’ll focus on his three other markets – WWIN (Women’s Wear in Nevada), KIDShow and the International Lingerie Show.

“The menswear business has gotten smaller and tougher,” he said. “In the last five years, every show has gotten progressively smaller than the one before it. This show is down to 65 booths, about the same size as the first one we did in August of 1982.”

At its peak, the semiannual show boasted about 600 booths.

“We run shows for specialty stores,” Yunis said, “and there are fewer of them in the men’s business and the trend isn’t good. Every day mail comes back to me that another store or two have gone out of business. I had two cancellations this morning and just loads of them in the last few days.”

Meanwhile, he noted, his other three shows are profitable and expanding. “There are still lots of women’s specialty stores out there, and we’ve got a waiting list for our women’s show [for exhibitor space] that’s larger than our men’s show ever was.”

He conceded that B.A.T.M.A.N.’s prospects weren’t helped by the alliance formed between the Chicago Collective and The Daube Group. “That was the final nail in the coffin,” he stated. “The Chicago group was very smart.”

Early in its history, B.A.T.M.A.N. had been a vibrant competitor, and something of a thorn in the side, for Daube, which acted as a sales agent for a limited number of men’s Big & Tall lines and was open only to stores that were members of an affiliated retail group.

B.A.T.M.A.N.’s closure will coincide with the sale of the convention center adjacent to Orlando’s Marriott to the University of Central Florida. “This is kind of appropriate,” Yunis said. “We’re the last show on the schedule.”

Yunis intends for B.A.T.M.A.N. to go out with a bang rather than a whimper. He’ll be picking up the tab for meals during the market and will keep a bar operating at his own expense. “We’re going to go out in style,” he said.

He cited personal considerations for the decision as well. “My wife and I realized that we could take the months of January and July off if it weren’t for B.A.T.M.A.N.,” he said. “We have a home in Little Cayman and we’re looking forward to longer vacations there now.”

Yunis is 65, but in good health with every intention of continuing to work.

He’s also actively expanding his company’s other shows, two of which, WWIN and KIDShow, are held in Las Vegas at the same time as MAGIC. The lingerie market is held in Las Vegas in April and October, and he’s adding an Adult Halloween Show at the Rio in Las Vegas in April.

“There are still a lot of women’s specialty stores out there and our shows have a fundamentally sound purpose in that market,” Yunis said. “But the men’s business? In Big & Tall? Certainly not what it used to be.”