As we recover from Natural Products Expo East and prepare for Expo West in March, we wanted perspective from you, the show attendees, on how Expo has grown over the years, what changes you'd like to see and what you're looking forward to in 2011. Here's what you had to say.
Q: How has Natural Products Expo evolved since you first began attending in the 1980s?
Expo has changed as the industry has changed. When I first started coming, retailers could meet easily with other company leaders.
Sometimes I miss the old days, but I'm encouraged by all the new start-ups I've seen at recent shows. I'm seeing many companies that claim the high ground and make terrific products. And there's still that sense of community.
–Debra Stark, owner of Debra's Natural Gourmet in Concord, Mass.
Q: What would you like to see at Expo in the future?
I'd like to know exactly what I should expect from the retailer workshops. Also, people are not always able to come to the retailer advisory board meetings on the day they are scheduled. The show floor is open and meetings aren't so enticing. Perhaps this could be coordinated differently?
–John Pitari, owner of New Morning Natural & Organic Foods in Woodbury, Conn.
Q: Why do you attend both the East and West trade shows?
We've exhibited at both shows for the last 18 years. Expo West always has great retailer participation, and Anaheim is accessible and surprisingly affordable.
Expo East offers a great opportunity to connect with East Coast independent retailers, which continue to be the lifeline of our industry. We're pleased to see the show returning to Baltimore, where we hope to see the innovation and efficiencies of earlier years.
–LeeAnn Stevens, brand development manager for Crofters Organic in Parry Sound, Ontario