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CHAMPS: A Summer Show To Remember

We’ll see you for our next show in Atlantic City

Over the course of three days, more than 920 exhibitors set up shop in the Las Vegas Convention Center and welcomed thousands of cannabis retailers who took advantage of the industry’s best merchandise. Attendees were treated to a vast supermarket of wholesalers, manufacturers and distributors, all of whom are making their names known to consumers on an international scale.

CHAMPS is the natural place to showcase a company or business that markets to the counterculture audience and those who love cannabis. With two decades of trade show experience under its belt and a clear vision for future expansion as the industry grows, the number of visitors grows with each CHAMPS event.

This was the fifty-seventh trade show in the CHAMPS company history and forty-second mounted in Vegas which, for years, was the home base of CHAMPS prior to adding to new locations to its yearly schedule in Denver, Chicago, Atlantic City and Orlando. 

There’s a reason for that. Las Vegas is far more than just gambling. Over 20,000 conventions take place here annually, while the convention industry accounts for nearly 16 percent of all Vegas visitors. If the cannabis retail industry has roots, CHAMPS has been instrumental in nurturing them here in this desert metropolis. 

Smoke shop merchandise, of course, is the predominant product on the convention floor. In fact, that sector of the industry has been synonymous with the CHAMPS name since its founding. But with legalization sweeping the country and attitudes toward cannabis becoming more favorable, the variety of companies in attendance has widened. 

You couldn’t miss the huge smoking joint suspended above the Raw rolling papers as you entered the show. On Day Two, Raw increased its visibility even further when HBI Naturals, the makers of Raw rolling papers, asked Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes (aka Jay and Silent Bob) to host an hour-long, incredibly gracious meet-and-greet session, which only bolstered their immense popularity among fans.

The CBD craze has definitely stoked the growth of CHAMPS. Scores of companies offering CBD-infused products populated the show. Whatever ails you, CBD seems to have a remedy. Dry Skin? Insomnia? Sick pets? CBD is the answer!

Companies that have adhered to strict production standards are reaping the benefits. Just CBD, showcasing an impressive line of products, hosted appearances by rappers Flo Rida and Gorilla Zoe, and feted attendees with an open bar on opening day. Heavenly Candy erected a virtual castle of CBD products at its booth, which included an arched entrance. The booths of Ultra CBD and Magic CBD teemed with buyers. Whether it was a lotion, a cream, a balm, a honey stick or the ubiquitous CBD gummy, the CBD juggernaut shows no signs of slowing. 

Vape companies were also heavily represented this week. With Forbes reporting that sales of concentrates topped $3 billion last year and that, in three years, could exceed $8.4 billion, numerous outfits manufacture sensational concentrate delivery systems. 

The cannabis industry has been able to extend its reach into the mainstream marketplace via CBD products, due to their broad availability. But dispensaries have introduced thousands of newcomers to the cannabis scene as well. This year CHAMPS introduced Dispensary+, a division of the trade show catering to the needs of shops that sell cannabis products. Hap Kent, director of Dispensary+, says, “It’s been warmly received. Everyone’s interested in where the retail scene is going and the companies that exhibited here this week have been trying to lead the way by marketing anything and everything a dispensary requires to be successful.”

Two seminars were offered to attendees that focused on the obstacles cannabis retailers face. Natalie Darves, dean of faculty at Oaksterdam University, provided an in-depth exploration of CBD regulations, while Deanna Clark-Esposito, an attorney working in the area of administrative law, presented an FDA regulatory road map for wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers involved in this industry.

Though its roster of exhibitors increases with each show—with insurance companies and financial service firms joining the family—glass and all its glory will always be associated with the “CHAMPS” name. Literally, tens of thousands of smokeware items beckoned buyers—dab rigs, big bongs, little bongs, art smokeware, simple spoons—pipes of every kind! You want glass? CHAMPS has always been the ultimate destination.

Moreover, CHAMPS has sponsored the Glass Games for a full decade, introducing the retail world to the art of glassblowing and highlighting elite artists—veterans and rookies alike. It’s a series of artistic glassblowing competitions that take place throughout the year, culminating in an epic “Masters” contest that takes place each February featuring all of the event winners of the qualifying Games.

At the Champs Summer Games, over 40 top glass artists battled over the course of the first two days of the trade show. On the final day, a panel of expert judges convened. 

Bryan Dosher (Doshworld), Derek White (Dwreck Glass), Puntyton Wigwag (Punty Glass) and Dabbing Granny were tasked with determining the winning glass creations in eight separate categories. 

At 5pm, Matty White stepped up to the microphone inside the vast Vegas Convention Center and announced the Glass Games winners. All of these artists have qualified for the Masters Final in 2020.

Pipe In A Pipe

1st – Sir Pyro
2nd – Josh Millimen
3rd – Plug a Nug

Hear No Evil

1st – Shaggy
2nd – HiccDog
3rd – Rob Morrison

Multi-Function

1st – Drakken
2nd – Byron Kiernan
3rd – Hiccdog

Necklace

1st – Dave Strobel Glass
2nd – Windstar
3rd – Chain Smoker

Rastafari

1st – FYV Glass
2nd – Shaggy
3rd – Rob Morrison

Honorable Mention – Flash

Mystery Collaboration

1st – Tony Kazy & Eric Runes
2nd – Dapo & Pee Jay
3rd – Clampitt Glass & Dellaluna

Inner Peace

1st – Windstar
2nd – Grimm
3rd – Dave Strobel Glass

Action Figure

1st – Fish
2nd – Grimm
3rd TIE – Tesla / Tony Kazy

As the Summer Show closed its doors and the Vegas sun was setting, CHAMPS CEO looked east toward Orlando, the site of the next show (Sept. 21-23): “This has been an incredible year so far,” he said. “As the industry builds momentum, CHAMPS always keeps pace. We’re heading to Florida with a full head of steam.”

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CHAMPS Smoke Shop Report, or ‘CSS’, online source for the updates and innovations on the smoke shop scene. News and information are geared strictly to accessories retail channels, with distribution limited to retailers that Smoke Shop products and wholesalers.

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