Natural Products Expo East 2004 will bring a fresh focus on educating and empowering small- and mid-sized independent business owners. The first-ever Retail Resource Center and Independent Retailer Owners? Day will include a Business 101 seminar track.
?We?re making [this year?s Expo East] more about education,? says exhibit sales coordinator Amy Dageenakis.
On the last day of Expo East—Sunday, Oct. 17—New Hope Natural Media will sponsor Independent Retail Owners? Day to honor and aid what it sees as one of the most important segments of the naturals industry.
?We want to provide an experience that is geared to the specific needs of this independent retailer group, and we want them to feel special and very valued at our show,? says Karen Raterman, vice president of content and seminars at New Hope Natural Media, which produces Expo East and publishes The Natural Foods Merchandiser. ?They are a very important part of our industry, and we want to help them get as much out of our show as they can.?
Sunday?s three Business 101 seminars are designed to equip independent retailers with information to help them grow and compete in the industry. The first seminar will feature an overview with Bill Crawford, formerly of the Tulsa, Okla.-based Akin?s Natural Foods Market and Chamberlin?s Market & Caf? chains and now director of grocery/mass retail custom programs at New Hope Natural Media. Carolee Colter, a principal of Community Consulting Group in Seattle, will lead the second seminar, ?Personnel Basics,? and the third seminar, ?Practical Internet Strategies for Building Your Retail Business,? will be led by Eric Shanfelt, director of eMedia strategy for New Hope.
After surveying Expo attendees and other retailers, Raterman said, she thinks the seminars will be very useful for owners and managers of small- to mid-sized independent retail operations.
After the Sunday morning seminars, New Hope will host a light lunch for participants in the Retail Resource Center, which is new to Expo East this year. The booth, in Hall A, will provide advice and information to retailers about how to run their businesses wisely.
?Basically, we are bringing an education element for retailers onto the show floor,? says Raterman. ?We will have information for retailers from many of the presentations at the show, and many of the speakers will have scheduled time in the center to be available for one-on-one or small-group question and answer sessions.?
The booth will include information and tips for staff training and advice for product development, featuring New Hope?s standards department.
Information will also be available from the Small Business Development Centers of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Retailers will have access to a library of print media and also to a copier, computer and printer, so they can take copies of articles home with them.
?We know that many of our retailers need business materials that will help them be more efficient and effective in their businesses, and we want to provide a resource to help them get access to these things at our show,? says Raterman.
Hilary Oliver is a free-lance writer in Fort Collins, Colo.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 9/p. 20, 22