Stab Magazine | What Exactly Is AGENDA?
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What Exactly Is AGENDA?

Come on in, the liquor’s flowing. 

news // Jul 1, 2016
Words by Morgan Williamson
Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s an “industry day” and the bro-down, red palms and purple knuckles are pulsing. There’s been a good run of swell in Southern California and the discussion around the waves is all time high: Getting any? Where? Newport’s been fun. Sick! – the chatter regarding the dying crowds as the local flock becomes surfed out is notable… even tiresome. Apparently another Agenda’s rolled around in Long Beach and the song remains the same: business on the surf side, fun and drinks on the skate side.

Agenda’s huge for surf brands and beyond; every significant and emerging co cuddles up to their booths to either gain distributors, make connections or just show face and stay relevant. If you live in the greater region of Southern California you’re probably aware of Agenda. It’s the trade show you see countless photos displaying florescent capital letters and storage containers on Instagram when it goes down. It’s an “in the know” deal that brings in an absurd amount of revenue for both the trade show and companies… from booth to booth you can hear the cha-chings and taste the silver and green… or if you’re at Vans, they’re cooking up waffles to match the soles of their shoes (such genius!).

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Agenda, California: the scene of scenes.

The minimum cost to get your biz into Agenda is 1,500 dollars… and that gets you less than a mini mall kiosk. Most are occupied by small candle and leather brands. If you want something a bit larger that’s not going to fully deplete your company’s budget, it’s going to run you four grand to get a space amongst countless brands searching for the same thing. After talking with a few of the smaller businesses of which I’ve never heard of – nor remember their names – getting into Agenda is a huge deal. It’s how smaller companies get their biz in the mix. They decorate their booths to portray the brand’s vibe and find new distributors. Some are bare bones, some are elaborate, but for a respectable booth four grand’s the minimum. That’s not even getting started on the cost of decor. On the opposite end, a company like GoPro for example, forks out a startling 65K for their booth equipped with eight-to-ten high def televisions and all the GoPro branding anyone’s little heart desires. According to the kind folks at GoPro their booth travels with them to all three events: Long Beach, Miami and Las Vegas.

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Are you hip enough?

The atmosphere’s a strange one; people are talking shop, making deals, riding skateboards and there’s a lot of drinking going on. From the nine-12 dollar cocktails and beers to the snuck in bottles of hard alcohol everybody stays pleasantly lubricated. But in order to withstand the constant business discussions, the high fives and homie hugs, it’s necessary to loosen up. There’s two prerogatives at the show, you’re either a seller, or a buyer… then people like me slide in-between the mold and spend the majority of the day swiveling their heads at the more elaborate booths, the awkward bikini models, nipple long beards, multi-coloured hair, men wearing overalls without undershirts and enough ink to paint a mural.

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The Brothers Marshall’s transaction tower.

The Brothers Marshall set up a fabulous lifeguard tower front and center just beyond the entrance. For a smaller brand their real-estate is prodigious. As I sat and admired the statement they were making by shelling out at the very least 15-20K for Agenda’s mantel piece, a crowd gathered towards the entrance. Beer and cocktails in hand, their voices audible, turning from chatter to yells, to cheers. Outside two security guards and two dreadlocked gents sporting skateboards were in an altercation. Someone yelled “kick his ass Seabass!”, the laughter was minimal and more security joined the scene. They grabbed the two aggressors from behind by the biceps and their fellow black suited co-workers ripped off their wristbands. It was all very anti-climatic, and words like “do you know who I am?” were being exchanged across the way. In the end, to the crowd’s dismay, it didn’t get violent. But that was no worries, four pm had hit and companies like Volcom know how to up the vibes. They rolled out their kegs and served free beer at their booths till they went dry… and everyone who had just spent 36 dollars on three 20 oz brews sighed, smiled and drank until 6:30 rolled around and were kicked out of the Long Beach Convention Center into the adjacent bars.

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