With close to 90 events and seminars geared toward them, retailers are the focus of Natural Products Expo East/Organic Products Expo-BioFach America, taking place from Wednesday, Oct. 4, through Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Baltimore Convention Center.
The show floor opens on Thursday, rather than Friday as it has in previous years, but retailers should try to be at Expo East by Wednesday, Oct. 4, to take advantage of all Expo has to offer them, says Amy Dageenakis, sales production and events manager for New Hope Natural Media.
On Wednesday morning, independent retailers will have their own networking breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Retail Resource Center at the Pratt Street Lobby on the 300 level of the convention center. The Retail Resource Center is available to all retailers and will be open throughout Expo as a space for business meetings and roundtable discussions with industry experts; its Indy Lounge is a place for independent retailers to network and relax.
"Expo East is bringing the sense of community back by reaching out to independent retailers. They are the backbone of the entire natural foods movement in this country," says Courtney Cason, audience development assistant for New Hope. "We want to show our support for them through the new events, programs and services we have designed especially for them."
Wednesday is tour day at Expo East. The Organic Farm Tour will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Herb Tour will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the Retail Store Tour will occur from noon to 4 p.m. All tours meet at the Pratt Street Lobby and cost $45 to $60. Retailers can sign up at registration when they arrive at the show, but space is limited. To secure a space before then, sign up online at www.expoeast.com.
Participants on the Retail Store Tour will visit diverse stores, says Kam Boenig, Delicious Living retail sales account manager. "I tried to pick stores with different feels and different ideas," Boenig says. "Two of the stores have completely different layouts. One is long and narrow, and the other has a couple storefronts side by side." Additionally, two of the four stores are independently owned and operated. Read more about David's Natural Market, one of the stores on the tour, here.
In the afternoon, women can connect and network at the Women in Naturals Roundtables and Afternoon Tea, sponsored by Avalon Organics, from 2 to 3 p.m. in Room 310, and all are welcome at the Organic Harvest Festival, sponsored by Organic Prairie, from 4 to 9 p.m. at the outside terrace on the 300 level. The Spirit of Organic Awards will be announced between 6:30 and 7 p.m. at the festival.
On Thursday morning, a free natural and organic breakfast will be served, thanks to Horizon Organic, Silk and Kashi, who will host "A Better Breakfast" from 8 to 10 a.m., in rooms 309 and 310.
Save some room to sample the Decadence Bar, another first-time offering at Expo. Attendees will have the chance to sample organic and natural chocolate, coffee, cheese, olive oil and wine while watching chefs demonstrate cooking techniques. Food experts will answer questions and give detailed information about their gourmet products. The Decadence Bar will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Friday and until 4 p.m. on Saturday, at the New Products Pavilion.
Attendees will get to bar-hop, because the Beauty Bar, sponsored by Jason Natural Products, will also be open with new body products to sample.
"The Beauty Bar will focus on the latest cosmetics, bath and body and skin care products, and will also be a great lounge to relax [at]," Dageenakis says. She adds, however, that there's so much to do at Expo, hardly anyone will want to lounge around.
On Thursday, Oct. 5, don't miss the keynote address by Marion Nestle from 9 to 10 a.m., in rooms 307 and 308. After the address, check out the New Products Showcase, sponsored by NewProductsLaunchPad.com, at the New Products Pavilion. Retailers can vote on their favorite new products.
The Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert, will speak at noon in the New Product Theater, followed by the Natural Products Association Industry Reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the New Products Pavilion. The reception's theme is school lunches and how the natural products industry can expand into school lunchrooms.
The day will end with a live performance by the funky Robert Randolph and the Family Band, which is currently opening the Dave Matthews Band's tour dates. The Live Music Party will be held at 9 p.m. at the Rams Head Live, a Baltimore music venue.
On Friday morning, Oct. 6, attendees can begin their day with either a Run for the Health of It race (sponsored by Kyowa Hakko and NSF International) at 8 a.m. outside the Pratt Street Lobby, or the 12th Annual Socially Responsible Business Awards Breakfast, also at 8 a.m., in rooms 307 and 308. Michael Funk, chief executive of United Natural Foods Inc., will be the keynote speaker, and will discuss the state of the industry and the issues it is facing. The SRBAs will also feature a live musical performance by devotional singer Snatam Kaur.
The spirit of congratulating deserving individuals and companies will continue with the Cliff Adler Heart in Business Award ceremony from 5:30 to 6 p.m. in the Charles Street Lobby. The late Cliff Adler was vice president of Eden Foods, and the Heart in Business award honors industry members who exhibit integrity, hard work and humor in business.
The place to meet up with industry friends on the last night of the show is the Organic Roots 4 concert, featuring reggae band Kush and the BloodFiyah Angels at the Baltimore Hyatt Constellation Ballroom, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday evening.
On Saturday morning, best-selling author and speaker Anna Lappé will present "Pushing the Edge of Possibility: Sustainability in a Time of Crisis," from 9 to 10 a.m. in the New Product Theater in the New Products Pavilion. Lappé's recent books include GRUB: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen (Penguin Books, 2006) and Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet (Penguin Books, 2002). Lappé co-founded the Small Planet Institute, which promotes sustainable communities worldwide, with her mother, Frances Moore Lappé, who wrote the groundbreaking Diet for a Small Planet in 1971 (Ballantine Books.)
Even though it's virtually impossible to attend every event, retailers will find plenty to do and learn, whether it's conducting detailed research at the Decadence Bar or running from one seminar to another. Click here for the complete event schedule.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVII/number 10/p. 26, 28