Natural Foods Merchandiser

Your 3 days at expo

Three days at Expo can be like three days touring a foreign city—you often leave feeling like you just didn't quite see it all. The show is a small city of tempting choices—education, speakers and parties all surrounded by the sights, sounds and flavors of the Expo floor. To help you make the most out of your trip, we've taken a cue from travel books and created a three-day show planner and pointed out our Expo faves, as well. Bon voyage!

Suggested itinerary: Grocery

Kick off Wednesday morning New England style with a "regular" coffee (two creams, two sugars) at Dunkin' Donuts, and head to the Boston Convention Center to join the Retail Store Tour (11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Southeast Lobby). Then get your Boston bearings with a stroll along the 3-mile Freedom Trail (, which showcases 16 nationally important sites. On Thursday focus on Keeping it Local (1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., room 252B), and learn to monetize the local-eating trend. The evening is all about mingling as NFM presents its first ever Industry Innovator Awards at the Community Celebration (5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Level 1, North Lobby). But don't stay out too late: keynote speaker Mark Bittman will open Friday's events at 9 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom. Time to hit the show floor with a visit to the Natural and Specialty Foods Pavilion. Finish up with a look at What Certified Sustainable Means for Organic (3:15p.m. to 4:45p.m., room 252B) before enjoying dinner at a nearby eatery (see "Eat Well at East," page 34). Mosey around the Organic Products Expo/Bio-Fach America on Saturday.

Global Session: Country of Origin Labeling
What: How to apply new standards and communicate them to your customers
When: 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Room 254A

Urban Farm Tour
What: Garden Girl Farm, a sustainable and organic farm in the heart of Boston
When: 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. ($65, lunch included)
Where: Southeast Lobby, pickup outside

Trends in the Nontraditional Organic Marketplace
What: Opportunities and challenges for organics in schools, hospitals and offices
When: 3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Where: Room 252B

Featured speaker: Jeremy Gutsche
What: Host of Trend Hunter TV talks about trend spotting and innovation
When: 3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Where: Room 253BC

Women in Naturals Event and Networking
What: Good wine and conversation
When: 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Room 104AB

Breakfast by the Bay
What: Sunrise views and cuisine from Cascadian Farm Organic and Muir Glen Organic
When: 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Where: Level 3, Grand Ballroom lobby
Gluten and Other Allergies 101

What: The gluten-free consumer—needs and programs
When: 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Where: Room 252A

Delicious Living Consumer Insight Report
What: What influences naturals consumers?
When: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Where: Room 252A

Retail Math: Understanding Costs, Discounts, Retails and Margins
What: Practical tips to help you prosper
When: 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Room 257AB

Suggested itinerary: Supplements

On Wednesday, enjoy the city in style from the backseat of a 1939 Cadillac (781.715.1922,, grab a grinder (sub sandwich) at one of the many delis near the convention center and race back for expert advice on Merchandising and Selecting Health, Beauty and Supplement Products* (2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., room 252A). Rise and shine early on Thursday, and start with something a little different at chef Bryant Terry's talk about food activism (9 a.m. to 10 a.m., room 253BC). Spend the rest of the morning exploring 250-year-old Faneuil Hall Marketplace (617.523.1300,, where you can nosh on a bagel in the Quincy Market Colonnade food hall. Back at the show, do your digesting while learning that omega-3s and antioxidants are the Key to Longevity (12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., room 260). Thursday night is your time to explore Boston's Irish pubs. You'll hear the Black Rose (617.742.2286, blackrose.html) before you see it. (Here's a tip: Live Celtic tunes mix well with bangers and mash.) Time to use your walking shoes! The floor opens Friday morning and the Pet Products and Supplements pavilions are waiting to be explored. Browse the aisles until it's time to learn about the challenges facing Earth's most widely used medicines—herbs (Medicine Hunter; 3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., room 252A). And learn how vitamins donated by exhibitors save children's lives at the 4th Annual Celebration of Angels (6 p.m., Grand Ballroom). And don't miss the New Products Showcase Awards (2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Hall A) on Saturday.

*Retailer Workshop is $95 ($75 for Natural Products Association East members) and includes lunch.

Advice from 2 Expo experts

Donnie Caffrey, owner of Good Foods Grocery in Richmond, Va., and Denise de la Montaigne, owner of Better Thymes Natural Foods in Front Royal, Va., have been Expo devotees since the 1980s. Here are their top tips for how to organize your time at the show.

Preplan. Comb before you arrive in Boston and home in on educational sessions and exhibitors you definitely want to hit. Give your floor time some structure by making a list of exhibitors offering show specials (

Categorize. Think about what categories you're most interested in expanding in you store, and look through the exhibitor list to find potential suppliers.

Divvy it up. On the first day, visit manufacturers you know you want to see. On the second day, search for particular products inside desired categories. On the third day, enjoy the show floor.

Spread out. If you have a staff, divide and conquer, but plan to meet every three hours—10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.—to touch base and exchange notes. Choose easy-to-find booths, such as that of your primary distributor. On your own? Start at one corner of the floor and walk methodically toward the opposite corner.

Meet at night. After dinner, gather your staff in your hotel room to go through the piles of cards and information. This is a good time to deal with orders so that you don't get overwhelmed when you get home. Or plan to stay in one night; order room service, and shift through orders.

Mingle. Cultivate relationships and connect with colleagues at the many networking events. Don't underestimate the power of swinging by a colleague's booth to say hello and thank him or her in person.

Take a break. When tiredness sets in, head to the Retailer Resource Center in Hall A to rest, grab a drink and see friends. It's a convenient way to relax without going all the way back to your hotel.

Suggested itinerary: Personal care

A Wednesday morning bike tour (800.979.3370, will let you expend some energy and take in the sights. Back at the convention center, hit Quintessential Trends in Weight, Aging and Antioxidants (11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., room 254A) and Beauty and Supplements—Margins and Budgets* (12:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., room 252A). No trip to "Beantown" would be complete without a visit to the home of the Boston Red Socks. Thursday morning, gather a group and take the D train to Fenway (617.226.6666, [email protected])—the oldest ball park in the country. Make it back in time for Health and Beauty Retailing (3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., room 252A) and dance the night away to reggae, folk and jazz beats at the Live Music Party with Xavier Rudd (9 p.m. to 12 a.m., Roxy Ballroom). After keynote speaker Mark Bittman on Friday, head to Hall A to vote on your favorite items in the New Products Showcase. Devote the next day and half to browsing the Natural Living and Health and Beauty pavilions.

*Retailer Workshop is $95 ($75 for Natural Products Association East members) and includes lunch.

Eat well at East

Nosh on the show floor, but save some room for these tasty Boston eateries.

Close and classy

425 Summer St., 617.532.4670
Dishes at this American bistro, located in the Westin Boston Waterfront, are served with a variety of zesty sauces.

283 Summer St., 617.695.2257,
Seasonal, local fare complements the restaurant's sustainable concept—the paper products are recycled, and food waste is composted.

Grezzo Restaurant
69 Prince St., 857.362.7288,
Located in the historic North End, Grezzo features raw, vegan, organic dishes and a selection of biodynamic wines.

Grasshopper All Vegan Restaurant
1 North Beacon St., 617.254.8883,
An all-vegan take on egg rolls, noodles and stir-fries.

134 Hampshire St., 617.661.0505,
Consistently ranked one of Boston's top restaurants, this Arabic-inspired eatery gets its fresh organic produce from local Siena Farms, owned by the chef's husband.

135 Richmond St., 617.723.6273,
Serving mostly deep-water fish and sustainably harvested seafood, Frank De Pasquale's coastal Italian restaurant is fresh and eclectic.

Local favorites
Durgin Park
340 Faneuil Hall Market Pl., 617.227.2038,
Typical New England food—think corned beef and cabbage, littleneck clams and lobster—eaten at communal tables.

No Name
15 Fish Pier St. W, 617.338.7539
Chowder, lobster and a no-nonsense atmosphere; this hole-in-the-wall is the real deal.

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