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Hundreds exhibit souvenirs, gifts at annual Las Vegas show

A wall was covered in 3-D glow-in-the-dark butterfly clips adorned the Flutter Gallery booth while not far away a roughly 8-foot metal statue of Disney’s fictional character Captain Jack Sparrow stood guard at the Kalifano booth.

The two Las Vegas-based exhibitors were among the more than 1,300 showing off their wares on Wednesday, the first day of the Las Vegas Souvenir and Resort Gift Show.

The annual event, underway at the Las Vegas Convention Center through Saturday. is one of the largest souvenir shows in the country.

Dates for this year’s event kicked off a couple weeks later than in previous years, but that has turned out to be beneficial, said Lisa Glosson, vice president of gift and souvenir for Clarion UX, the show’s organizer.

“I think it helps a lot of the small businesses,” she said. “When you think about souvenirs, you think about tourists, and after Labor Day, things start dying down so this gives some of the small gift shops and souvenir shops a little bit more time to look at their inventory.”

Yvonne Betts, founder of the Flutter Gallery, said this marks the first time she has taken part in the trade show.

Betts said she started her business three years ago, supplying her butterfly creations, including greeting cards and art, to retailers and zoos, including the San Diego Zoo.

Already, she said, the decision to exhibit appears to be paying off.

“I decided to participate this year because one of my main clients recommended I try this show,” she said. “I’ve had quite a few warm leads and some good feedback, which is always exciting to start the show (with).”

Glosson said the show takes up about 250,000 gross square feet of space inside the Convention Center.

No major changes were made to the show, but it did expand several sections including its Native American section, featuring vendors offering authentic Native American merchandise, as well as its popular Made in the USA section, where Flutter Gallery was located.

Impact Photographics offered an array of national-park themed merchandise from posters and walking sticks to stickers.

Account manager Eric Wilkins said the El Dorado Hills, California, company has participated in the event since the show started in 2005. Every year the show appears to be expanding with more vendors, he said.

Competitive field

But more booths on the show floor doesn’t necessarily translate into more buyers, according to RJ Khalaf of Kalifano.

Khalaf, whose father, Alexander Khalaf, heads the business, said their booth was getting some interest on Wednesday but noted that trade shows can be tough.

“Truthfully, trade shows are getting a lot harder to exhibit at as a wholesaler,” he said. “It’s not the same as it used to be with the rise of websites like Alibaba … and even Amazon.”

But visitors were still drawn to the booth with its large selection of metal statues, made of car and motorcycle parts, and trees made of semiprecious gemstones.

The more than 20-year-old family business has seen its share of success with more than 120 cruise ship clients and museums such as the Smithsonian, along with its retail sites at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and at The Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes.

“We’re excited to be here and, fingers crossed, we have a good show,” Khalaf said.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian and Palazzo.

Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

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