The Javits Center was once a vital tool in fighting COVID-19 — first as a temporary field hospital and then as a vaccination hub.
But on Sunday the center reopened for its intended use as two trade shows kicked off, attracting hundreds of business owners shopping for merchandise.
Afrid Ghoffrani was one of the sellers. She owns Zig Zag Asian Collection and has taken trips from California to the Javits Center trade shows for 20 years to sell her goods to business owners.
“People are excited. They’re ready to be out again,” said Ghoffrani. “They wanna see and they wanna touch. Nobody has been able to go to a trade show.”
Because of COVID-19, interactions with customers, like most everything else, went online.
Ghoffrani said coming back to in-person shopping is beneficial for everyone.
“We wanna let our customers know that we are still here. We survived COVID so far and I think for everyone that’s new it has been very difficult year, but now with the businesses back in the Javits Center they have more chance to create a great winter and fall season for themselves,” said Ghoffrani.
Sunday’s showing was an exclusive event, unlike the New York Automobile Show, which is open to the public.
The auto show, which is held at the Javits Center, was canceled due to concerns over the delta variant, but organizers of this show said this was a business-to-business event with limited attendance, making it very different from the auto show.
“It’s good to see the turnout that we’ve got here at the show,” said product developer Caleb Patterson. “You don’t know what to anticipate coming back from something like the pandemic.”
Masks had to be worn the whole time, and yet those we spoke with didn’t mind.
“It feels normal. We see clients everyday in our store. We just started back with masks. So it feels no different,” said buyer Molly Ellis.
Ghoffrani hopes the turnout is just the boost she needs.
“We are here and we survived. We expect a strong fall, winter because people are really ready to buy and the people at Javits are really ready to do that,” said Ghoffrani.
One of the shows wraps up Tuesday, the other on Wednesday.
The Javits Center will host New York Comic Con in October. Usually, the convention draws hundred of thousands of people.
Comic Con said it is waiting for guidance from the city on whether vaccines will be required.
Editors note: A previous version of this article stated that the Zig Zag Asian Collection's name was Zig Zag Artist Collection.