Tuesday, January 23, 2007

San Francisco Fancy Food Show- A Point of View.

The NASFT Fancy Food winter show is now behind us. All over the Moscone center vendors were hocking their wares. People were sampling little tasty tidbits, while flocks of suits in power clusters; moved from booth to booth inking deals that will possibly change the lives of the small companies that are struggling to get their attention. This is the typical side of the Fancy Food show. This is what you expected and wanted to see. I have another side of the story to tell you about.

If you traveled to the farthest corners of the show, and not many did. You would have found a different scene developing. Just like the crowded, bustling aisles of the main floor, you will find booths, and you will find vendors hocking their wares. What you won’t find there are the crowds, you won’t find the power deals going down, and the vendors that have been exiled to these small semi-annexed rooms dealt with their unfortunate location.

Fortunately for my company, our business did not rely on the thousands of drive by hits to make our show. We already had meetings set, and we have brokers working hard for us; hand holding and bringing clientele to our booth. This show was just fine for my company. But what about the booths around us, they sit or stand waiting for potential customers to come by, but they don’t. They waited for that big wig from grocery store XYZ to discover their incredibly unique products that consumers just can’t live without, but no one came?

Did they pay any less for their booth? No. Were they aware that they would spend an average of $3600 for a ten by ten slot on the floor; annexed from the bustling crowds of buyers power shopping for the next great thing? No. These vendors have come from all over the US with the dream that this would be their big break. They would invest the money they have begged, and borrowed to chase their dream; because this show will be the turning point for their specialty food company.

Where were the signs to direct the crowds into these rooms. These booths, with owners that sit quietly waiting for customers, are not on the maps or guide books. I asked the information booth attendant; “where is the section for booth 5200?” The reply; “it’s not on the map just keep looking”. There were black fabric panels that made it appear as if the rooms don’t even exist. How did we get so lucky to get this location? It is certainly less stressful, no crowds to control. If you are preparing samples, you have less to cook; so you won’t run out! You have to look at the bright side, right?

Well, today passed like the other two days. Business was done in the incredibly busy main isles of the show floor. The vendors in the annex also passed the day. Their feet tired just the same as on the main floor. But think of all that was being saved. Business cards were saved, samples were saved, ink in the pens to take notes and paper on which a note would be taken, all saved. Nerves were saved since there were no large crowds around your booth, all trying to talk to you at once. Salaries were saved for the people whom you could send home since the booth was so slow.

Next year it will be in San Diego, bigger and better than ever! Hopefully, the vendors from this year’s annexed halls will be around to reap the rewards of the new venue. With all that they saved, perhaps they will.

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