Just last month, Emmy’s Organics exhibited at Expo West. The Natural Products Expo West is the largest Natural Products show in the country and rated one of the top 200 trade shows in the US. Ian and I have waited years to be able to exhibited. This show attracts around 70,000 people and over 3,000 exhibitors from around the world. Hence, a very high price tag for the booth alone and then you need to give out a ton of samples, promo materials, get yourself and a huge display there, etc. Not cheap. BUT, literally everyone is there. All industry connections: other manufacturers, store buyers (from anything from Greenstar to Whole Foods to Wegmans to Bed Bath & Beyond), sales reps, ingredient suppliers, bloggers, health coaches and distributors. And the umbrella term is “Natural Products.” This is a big term. Almost every brand that you see in Greenstar had a booth there. It is predominately food, but there are also health & beauty companies, supplements, home supplies and clothing. The show takes up the entire Anaheim Convention center (which is right across the street from Disney Land…no, I didn’t go). Now, I have walked this show before. I was there last year to meet with some of our sales reps and connect with other manufacturers. But this year was our very first exhibiting year. We somewhat knew what to expect: a ton of people, needing an exquisite booth and being able to hand out a ton of samples. Most of our booth display was built in Ithaca and we sent that along with all of our product plus signs and banners and tables and more on two pallets.
On our way to Anaheim, we found out that our pallets were running behind and that they hadn’t been delivered yet. Ian and I pretty much had a heart attack because if your pallets aren’t there on time, there is a chance that you cant even exhibit the first day! Of course, this happens for our first Expo West. After countless phone calls and freak outs, Ian arranged to have our pallets delivered the morning of the first day of the show. At 7AM. He and his brother got up super early to start the set up (I was fighting a cold). When I arrived, it was perfect and gorgeous and we were ready for our first day.
What is always so humbling about Expo West is that it is such a reminder of what an industry we are a part of. Even if some of the products are healthy and some of the people behind these companies are working for the greater good, money still talks. You would be amazed by some of the booth around. Some of largest usually come from companies like Stoneyfield, Fage, Daiya, etc. Easily, these booths could cost around $200,000 alone. BUT, they get a great deal of attention and recognition. As a first time exhibitor, I learned a lot of things. First, certain people want to hear certain things. When a buyer, for example, comes up to your booth, they will want to know if you are new, if your products are gluten free, what other types of stores you sell in OR what distributor you use. Plus, it is your job to figure out what they want to hear and how to get it in quick. Second, a beautiful booth matters. Our booth was downstairs in the new products area. This was totally the cool spot with a ton of people walking through. Without a beautiful booth, a 10X10 area can get lost. So, we worked very hard the months leading up to design something that was going to stand out (pic above). Last, give stuff away. Because we planned on the amount of samples we were going to need, we were prepared. Having the freedom to give away product and sales sheets and anything with your brand name on it, makes a difference! In the past, giving too much away would tug at our heart strings because we were so concerned with the cost of it. Here, we saw giving product away as an opportunity but this came with growth. If we had done this show too early, we would have been only focused on the cost and if we were to get a huge order from the show, we likely wouldn’t have been able to fulfill it.
In the end, the three full days of Expo West, were a huge success for us. We met with some new sales reps, got one very large order and connected with all of our industry friends who we look up to and admire. The amount of energy needed for this show was HUGE! But, it was all worth it after leaving Anaheim inspired and ready to make some big things happen. We already have a deposit down for next year. Check out the link below from the trade show website with some great footage from the show! Maybe we’ll make it in next year…
Expo West Footage