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Next in Travel Gear

After exploring eye-catching exhibitor booths, Launch Pods and the New Products Pavilion at The Travel Goods Show, retailers agree on what’s next in travel goods. But when is another question: when will travel restrictions be lifted, when will supply chain disruption end, and when (in some cases) will non-essential businesses be allowed to re-open?

Attendees returned from The Show to a very different travel and retail environment. While we advocate for our industry and prepare for the difficult period ahead, let’s also celebrate the innovative products that will bring comfort and fun to travel – when travel becomes normal again.

Kim and Erik Hougen

Co-owners
Focus on Travel, Whitehorse, Canada

Focus on Travel is centered on the idea that travel is quite glamorous,” said Kim Hougen, co-owner of the Whitehorse, Canada luggage and camera store. “We have our main luggage line, so we’re primarily looking for small bags and accessories. We found bright and stylish women’s cosmetic cases from mb greene that we really liked; people are looking for those. We enjoyed meeting the founder Mary Beth Greene.”

The Hougens thought Blisslet’s anti-nausea cuffs would be a great fit for their store, which is also part of the official Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®. But they were disappointed to discover that Pang Wangle (a bug repellent line of clothing) can’t be imported into Canada. “We always want to bring in mosquito repellent items,” said Erik Hougen.

Also on the Hougen’s shopping list: fashionable compression socks. “We love SockWell’s merino wool socks, and then we found Dr. Segal’s. They’re from Canada so we felt like we should support them,” said Kim. “Some people won’t wear wool. And other people will only wear Merino or will only wear renewable fabrics,” added Erik. “It’s two different customers,” Eric added. Now they can make both happy.

Barbara Tolliver and Susan Taylor

Co-founders
The Traveler, Bainbridge Island, WA

Barbara Tolliver and Susan Taylor of The Traveler are known for combing through each booth at The Show looking for interesting new products, comparing notes with other attendees to make sure they don’t miss a thing.

“This year we’re excited about the Aeropress Go travel coffee press (winner of the Best Use of Technology award). We both have the original AeroPress coffee maker at home and it makes terrific coffee, but it’s not something you want to fiddle with when you’re on the road,” said Tolliver. “Their new travel design is so compact and so slick, it’s a great travel or commuter product.”

Tolliver and Taylor also wanted to commend COCOON by Design Salt. “Sue Morrison and Cocoon have been here every year, but their workmanship and attention to detail are incredible and they care so much about their retailers, they deserve a shout out,” said Taylor.

Chuck Weisbart

CEO
It’s…In The Bag!, Palm Desert, CA

It’s…In The Bag!, located in Palm Desert, CA, is known for their Sick Bag Clinic, handling hundreds of repairs a week, and their detailed B4UGO travel seminars focusing on travel security and packing. “I’m just nuts for innovation,” said Chuck Weisbart, CEO of It’s…In The Bag!, “that’s what I want to see in this industry.”

Weisbart praised Matador as one of The Show’s most consistently innovative exhibitors. “I love the Matador SEG42 segmented travel bag with built-in, externally accessible packing cubes,” said Weisbart. He also admired the subtly smart new Matador toiletry jars, which feature a tiny one-way vent that regulates pressure on flights without allowing the contents to seep out or the container to deform. And he’s still raving about the Matador FlatPak™ Toiletry Bottles and Soap Bar Case, which won the Buzz Award at The 2019 Show. “As they empty out over the course of your trip they squeeze down to nothing. It’s so smart,” said Weisbart.

“It’s…In The Bag! sells tons of bags for sporting events, so I was happy to see a lot of new options for clear stadium bags,” said Weisbart. He was also impressed with new exhibitor Common Journey. “I would definitely try the Blanket Pillow (a softly stylish inflatable neck pillow that comes packed with an integrated blanket) if I had a long trip,” said Weisbart. He was happy to see plenty of great bread-and-butter products from J World New York. “They have tons of great price point luggage sets,” said Weisbart, “and they’re all good looking.”

Weisbart is both a retailer and an exhibitor of TagsForBags colorful custom bag tags. When I interviewed Weisbart in his TagsForBags booth at The Show, he immediately walked me across the aisle to look at the Briggs & Riley ZDX collection. Their sleek new matte black business bags attracted many Show retailers with a combination of style and modern tech features.

One of Weisbart’s Show favorites was even closer to home: new TagsForBags Tiny’Tudes mini bag tags, which quickly identify any bag with bright colors and a cheeky message. “They’re the perfect size for briefcases and totes,” said Weisbart. “Our customers are going crazy for them!”

Jana Tycholis (with Debbie Bailer)

Team Lead
The WestJet Store, Calgary, Canada

The WestJet Store is the official store of WestJet Airlines, located in the WestJet Hangar at the Calgary International Airport. Jana Tycholis (left) attended The Travel Goods Show to scout for smart and eye-catching travel bags and accessories. “We really like the Walter + Ray Bendy man, and the original TAB™ Messenger seatback organizer,” said Tycholis.

Travelon has a great collection of accessories, and we were delighted to meet Sunchea and see her YaY Novelty reusable bags. We’ve seen lots of other reusable bags, but her graphics are really special.”

Tycholis gave a special mention to this year’s Twise kid’s luggage collection by J World Sports. Twise has always had great wheeled backpacks for older kids, but now they’ve created a whole luggage line for toddlers and elementary school aged children. “The whole collection is so cute,” said Tycholis.

Renee and Pete Silverman

Co-owners
Irv’s Luggage, Vernon Hills, IL

Renee and Pete Silverman met at The Show 35 years ago, both scions of competing Chicago-area luggage retail dynasties (Read “Meant to Be” in the Show Happenings article). In 2018, after decades in the travel goods industry (and decades of marriage) they re-launched Irv’s Luggage together.

In 2020, the Silvermans are celebrating Irv’s 73rd year in business. Irv’s Luggage specializes in comprehensive luggage and travel assistance, from helping clients file airline claims to handling luggage repair and warranties.

The Silvermans pride themselves on making bag or accessory recommendations based on generations of travel experience, tailored to a client’s destination and concerns. What stood out for the pair who have seen it all? “The Rollink collapsible carry-ons and checked bags (winner of the The Buzz Award and the Best New Design – Luggage award) are outstanding,” said Pete Silverman, “and Nomatic also has that cool factor.” Also judged extremely cool: The Briggs & Riley ZDX Carry-On Upright Duffle in the New Products Pavilion.

“I really love women entrepreneurs,” said Renee Silverman, “so I was also thrilled to find the Pang Wangle insect-repellent wrap. It’s simple, usable, and beautiful. It’s going to be a really easy sale.” She also was fascinated by the Versillo origin story: 11-year-old “kidtrepreneur” EvanMarie Brasington came up with the idea for a better neck pillow while experimenting with a decorative “E” shaped pillow (“E” is for EvanMarie). “The Versillo neck pillow is really sellable. It’s comfortable and has a great story,” said Renee Silverman. “I was also happy to see a variety of new, well-thought-out cosmetic cases for women travelers,” she added.

Kimberly Lamaze (with Deborah Burke)

Founder
Kalamazing Travel Gear, Hollywood, FL

“We are launching a new travel site and we’re hoping to see even more travel accessories, that’s a lot of our business,” said Kimberly Lamaze (left), founder of Kalamazing Travel Gear. One of her favorite discoveries at The Show was the Standley Lean Backpack (the daypack with a built-in seat/backrest, winner of the The Best New Design – Backpack award).

“Of course the Aeropress Go travel coffee press is perfect for us,” said Lamaze “and I think the Walter + Ray Trolley Partner travel coffee carrier is very clever.” Another Show surprise for Lamaze was the beautiful and unique Zhampagge all-in-one travel organizer/crossbody bag. “We just love it!”.

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