Imagine walking down the sidewalk on a sunny day. You wave at the neighbor kids, who appear to have set up a fusion lemonade-macaroon-taco stand. It looks pretty dang cool, so you head over to take a look.
Now, imagine that instead of sunshine, it’s fluorescent overhead lights. Instead of a sidewalk, you are being herded down one of 234 aisles, surrounded by 11,256 strangers jockeying for the best position. Escaping from the moving stream of people requires nothing short of using a large handbag as a battering ram.
Trade shows are both awesome and overwhelming… and are nothing like a neighborhood stroll.
The beginning of the year marks a new trade show season for us. New Year, new stuff. The Fancy Food Show kicks things off, where we scout out the newest specialty foods from around the world. It’s three full days of walking and tasting and ooohing and aaahing.
Next up is the Seattle Gift Show, where gifty gifts are around every corner.
Direct from there, we hit the Vegas Gift Show for a chance to check out even more unique products.
The Chicago International Housewares Show enters the scene in early March and is our opportunity to get our kitchen groove on.
Rounding out the season is the hugely popular Natural Foods Show in Anaheim, where we scout out the tastiest natural foods to bring back to the people of Bend.
Our eyes are always open for new items that jive with the vibe of our distinctive market.
Sometimes the biggest treasures are found by going down the small offshoots of the main tradeshow floor. The best olive oil we ever tasted was from a booth found at the end of an obscure aisle. An elderly Spanish man, wearing a rumpled jacket, was frantically trying to set up his display. He had pressed his olive oil on Thursday, hopped on a plane on Friday and was sampling it on Sunday. He didn’t even have time to put labels on the bottles! We still remember how good his oil tasted and how earnest he was to tell the story of his quaint, family-owned olive grove in Spain.
At the Seattle Gift Show, an employee happened to glance down at the very bottom of a display shelf. She pulled a vase out of the recessed confines for a better look and thought, “This is cool.” And she was right. The iron top vase is a #1 seller in our floral department.
We expect our trade show experience to be one ginormous treasure hunt. We never know what we’ll find.
To make sure that the entire team gets to see all of the items at each show, we formulate a pattern for weaving up and down every single aisle as a group. Sort of like a “Newport Posse.” Sticking together allows us to bounce ideas off of each other and make immediate purchasing decisions. Using an iPad, we take pictures of, and make notes about, products we believe would be a good fit for our store. We can even place orders right on the spot. Sometimes, new products beat us home!
At the end of every day, try to meet over dinner to rehash our day’s work. The iPad turns out to be a lifesaver! It allows us to capture the emotion and initial thoughts surrounding our newest finds (rather than having to sift through handwritten notes, trying to decipher hurried scribbles).
Off to rinse and repeat!
Here’s how we prepare for each trade show season:
- We pay attention to trade magazines. What is popular with grocers these days?
- We listen to customer feedback. What are our customers asking for?
- We balance open-mindedness with gut instinct. Sometimes you just know it when you see it.
- We study the trends. Constantly.
- We run 7.5 miles per day. Not really.
Making your visit to Newport Avenue Market a distinctive experience is what drives us.
We are proud of our reputation for providing good food + specialty groceries + refreshingly unusual gifts and gadgets to our neighbors! Walk down any aisle of our store and you’ll see an abundance of interesting products. Gourmet popcorn. Exotic sauces. Silicone kitchen tongs. Jesus bobbleheads. Stuff that makes you smile.
Make sure you stop by the store today. We’re pretty sure you’ll find a whole slew of things that weren’t there yesterday. And if you want something that we don’t normally carry, just ask.
We’ll go on the hunt for you!