Exhibitors Weigh In On Expo’s First Day

On Tuesday, the PPAI 2019 Expo show floor was buzzing with activity as more than 1,220 exhibiting companies showcased their latest in promotional products to attendees. With new trends and fan favorites available at every turn, PPB’s editorial team took to the show floor to interview exhibitors about their products and Expo experience.

“It’s been amazing,” says David Cain of TradeNet Publishing Co., the Gardener, Kansas-based supplier specializes in office accessories and home goods like business cards, banners, luggage tags, memo boards, spiral-bound notebooks and wall calendars. “We noticed that traffic picked up earlier this year. We’re in a different spot this year, so we had people coming a lot earlier than last year when we were on the outskirts, and it took everybody a bit of time. It has been steady all day, and we love that our new spot generated more foot traffic from the beginning.”

Arnold Kaplan of Steven Smith Stuffed Animals Inc. was also pleased with his show experience. “I feel that we had a reasonably busy day with a steady flow. For us, we weren’t mobbed at any one point, so we could deal with the people that came in, and I was pleased with that.” The Brooklyn, New York-based supplier creates custom-designed stuffed animals to market, celebrate and commemorate any event.

Indiana Metal Craft echoes the sentiment of a “steady” experience. Mike Davis, a sales representative for the company, explains the products, which are USA-made in Wilmington, Indiana, and include commemorative, medal-like pieces to celebrate special anniversaries and events. A newly available customization option includes the addition of color onto pewter, making for a pop of unexpected color.

Another supplier notes the success of the SAGE app in driving traffic to his booth. “I think the best thing this year has been the SAGE program,” says Paul Whitlock of Hawthorne, California-based Picnic at Ascot. “I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve seen here this year—there’s a lot more photographs being taken.” Whitlock explains the backstory of his 27-year-old business, which creates custom coolers, picnic baskets, wine baskets and bamboo cutting boards for corporate gifts. The company operates predominately in the retail space—75 percent—Whitlock says, with gifts targeting house warmings and similar occasions. “Originally, we did wicker baskets—that was back in the early ’90s—and then we spread into the coolers, and now we’re here doing more wine-related products, trunk organizers and barbecue goods.”

Nicholus Winbarry of California Newcraft Products, Inc. has a company that specializes in creating display cases for liquor bottles, like bottle service trays and bottle presenters, along with ice bucket wraps, champagne and wine bars and shot service trays. Winbarry describes his company as offering bar accessories for a very niche market. He says that liquor companies may seek his products with the intention of selling more of their product in nightclubs and related venues. To do so, they’ll order display cases, which they gift to nightclubs for free—and raises the perceived value of the nightclub—while the brand sells more product. As for his show floor experience, Winbarry is pleased so far.

Amber Benavediz-Neal of Full Designs in Burnaby, Canada, feels the show experience has consistently improved over the years. “Before, I felt that people used to crowd around the smaller businesses, and I felt that PPAI did a good job of opening up the show floor. We have more space to communicate with guests, so it’s really cool the way it was set up. Moving was really, really easy this year,” she says.

Full Designs specializes in custom pins, lanyards and custom, dye-colored ornaments. The company is factory-direct and does not require minimum inventory orders, apart from a minimum order amount of $100. The company recently started producing lanyards, which is done inhouse in its own factory. “We’re competitive in that, because we’re aware that everyone owns lanyards.” Its ornaments, which are also new to the product list, are not only custom dyed, but they pass the California regulations for shipping directly through U.S. mail. “The awesome thing about this, is that you just need a stamp and you can pass it through,” she says. “We send them out for Christmas, thank you’s, hello’s, etc.”

The show floor remains open today until 5 pm, and until 2 pm on Thursday.

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