Five Minutes With: Everen T. Brown, MAS
Everen T. Brown, MAS, is the curator of Promotional Products Superstore, a shared showroom space designed for suppliers and distributors alike.
PPB How does the Promotional Products Superstore work?
Brown It is a year-round, community-based, shared showroom in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Suppliers sponsor a showcase that highlights their products to distributors and end users. It is open daily for distributors to obtain catalogs, borrow samples and get educational ideas to help close sales. Suppliers benefit by having their products on display with a full-time rep to educate distributors about their product line. It is a sales showroom, product expo and sample library all rolled into a unique promotional products industry resource center. We have planned community events open to all registered distributors in our multi-state area and even to distributors traveling through the city.
PPB How was the concept for the space developed?
Brown Our goal is to create a meaningful experience for suppliers and distributors. After 40-plus years in the industry, I thought there must be a better way to connect. Suppliers only have a handful of ways to reach distributors and most of them are fleeting, like spending a few minutes at a trade show or reps that can only call on a few distributors in a market. These are expensive ways to reach a distributor for a short amount of time. Promotional Products Superstore is a cost-effective way to reach more distributors by educating them to sell these product lines creatively to increase their sales. Suppliers pay a fixed monthly price to be a sponsor. In return they have full-time representation and save money by shipping catalogs and samples to one location for distribution.
Plus, many distributors are home-based, and this gives them access to a multimillion-dollar showroom to compete at a higher level. We want to “up the game” for all who participate.
PPB What are some of the unique benefits available to suppliers and distributors that aren’t accessible elsewhere?
Brown I am most proud of our sample library, which allows a distributor the opportunity to borrow samples for client presentations for 48 hours at no cost. Many of these are high-end samples, like awards and executive gifts the average distributor would not stock or sample. Overnighting samples is also costly for many distributors. The old industry adage, “You cannot sell from an empty wagon,” is even more true today. Savvy buyers want to see products in person to make sure they are buying quality items. Using our sample library gives distributors a competitive edge over China-direct and internet-only companies. Promotional Products Superstore offers a retail location with electronic billboards, website advertisements and high-tech tools for distributors.
PPB Was there a reason for the Salt Lake City, Utah, location?
Brown Utah has been ranked in the top 10 states for doing business annually and Salt Lake City has just been rated in Inc. magazine as the No. 2 best city to start a business in 2019. It also happens to be my hometown and a great place to start this project.
PPB Is Promotional Products Superstore similar to the concept of open workspaces, such as WeWork?
Brown We are working toward a WeWork environment for distributors. Currently, distributors can reserve the entire showroom for client meetings and staff sales meetings. We want to offer other services, like an in-house art department to help distributors close sales quicker. We want to bring back a community feeling to the industry. Multi-line reps can book event space and put on mini shows, saving them the time of visiting individual distributor offices. We will email invites to our registered distributor list to help them promote their special events.
PPB Do you believe it will change how the industry does business?
Brown Yes. Suppliers benefit from full-time product exposure and distributors enjoy a one-stop location with resources to help them grow their business. It needs to be embraced by both parties to make it a success, so we can take this concept to other cities across the country.
Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.