Global ECO Show review: Ellaroo

Today we have two reviews of the Global ECO trade show from an exhibitor’s perspective. First up is Vesta.
Alternative title: Please, pay off! Tradeshow review: Global ECO Show Vesta Hartman Garcia, founder of Ellaroo

I wanted to title my entry “Please, pay off! Tradeshow review: Global ECO Show Vesta Hartman Garcia, founder of Ellaroo” but Kathleen said it was too long, wrapping into four lines in the recent entries sidebar. My title stems from the fact that Kim (my sales supervisor) and I desperately want this show to succeed for everyone involved. It’s our favorite show at which we’ve exhibited -or in my case -attended.

The entire process of interacting with this show is very low key. To the point of being a little confusing. It’s a new show; this was the third one. It happens in February and August, in association with ASAP Global Sourcing and of course, MAGIC. The confusion comes from everyone trying to learn the ropes, and the exhibitor kit could use some beefing up. It’ll happen.

As either an exhibitor or buyer, the amenities are astounding. They feed you breakfast, lunch, and afternoon “snack” (basically early dinner), as well as rolling out the open bar around 5 or 6 (show hours are 9:30 to 7; how civilized is that??). We saved hundreds of dollars on food and drinks alone, including water. The booth price is reasonable, at $2800 for a 10×10. For comparison, our primary industry show is $2000, includes no perks, and they make us show up at 8:30, which is barbaric. At ECO show, there were computer terminals set up in the next room, but we didn’t check them out. We were staying in the Venetian so we just popped up to our room to work when needed.

The Venetian is, for what it is (full disclosure: I am most certainly not a Las Vegas type of person), lovely. First class room and staff. It was a little spendy to stay there, even with the show discount, but it quickly paid for itself. Most shows, we blow tons of money on cabs and food. We easily made up the extra $100 a day in room cost by not having to pay for food and cabs (just the $6 shuttle fee, to and from the airport). And we’ve done enough shows by now that we also realize that our sanity is worth money. Being in the same building as the show was heavenly. Out of the shower, spiff up, walk down to the show. Ahhhh. Also, there were shuttles running from just outside the show to MAGIC. So getting back and forth was a no-brainer.

The exhibitors included textile brokers, t-shirts, baby products, several types of apparel, t-shirts, bags, yarn, t-shirts, celtic stuff, household items. I was actually impressed with the variety. And most of it wasn’t too “crunchy”, although I’m afraid that many of the exhibitors themselves were rather, um, comfortable. It may just be me, but I’m of the opinion that one should spiff up, even just a little, for a trade show. As a buyer, I like to feel that the sales person in front of me takes this opportunity seriously. If they look like they just rolled out of bed, I’m not feeling the love. The first day was the busiest, before MAGIC or Project opened. It tapered off from there. But we felt like the buyers were very serious. Pre-selected to care about what we’re trying to do. Especially with our niche products (baby carriers), we need very specific buyers: either baby boutiques or “green” stores. “Gift buyer” doesn’t cut it. “Apparel and accessories buyer” doesn’t cut it. We sold a little and collected a nice stack of serious leads. It’ll take about 6 months for us to determine whether the show paid for itself directly (about $5000 total). By the way, we got the same impressions from the other exhibitors we talked to. As far as buyers were concerned, we saw a lot of excitement that the show existed, but also heard a lot of confusion as to why it wasn’t better publicized. So better publicity is definitely needed.

The thing is, we really want this show to succeed, both because we enjoy it so much, but also because we feel it’s so important to give buyers a focused venue to encounter companies who are trying to do things differently, thoughtfully, in relation to the “triple bottom line”. Also, I made so many incredibly valuable contacts, from the perspective of a designer/entrepreneur/left-wing nut job. For the networking opportunities alone, I must come back. My hope is that we can also continue exhibiting profitably, while I network. Oh, in that context, I should mention that there is a sort of “rep” area available to those who can’t afford a booth. You can bring in one rack of clothes, or whatever, and they will show it for you. I’m not sure how much it costs, but it seems like a good deal.

As an aside, being next door to the ASAP show was hilarious. You could not choose two more diametrically opposed groups of people than old-guard overseas apparel mass-producers and tiny idealistic “green” DEs. These old guys from Israel/Iran/Korea/Brazil would wander over to our booth and say (imagine loud, thick accent of your choice) “Organic?? What does this mean?” or “This price, it is for 12? No. One?? Who do you sell to, Beverly Hills??” or “Is this business good? Do you make money?”. Then they would wander back to their room, muttering something about being in the wrong line of business. We heard from several of them that business is soft. Very soft. The number of exhibitors at ASAP is down by 50 over last year, from what I heard. Perhaps another sign that production is moving back to the US? With the falling dollar, rising fuel costs, and multiple recalls, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

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One comment

  1. diane carter says:

    i applaud your candor and honesty, vesta.
    blazing new trails is never easy. i am an
    arm-chair observer of the organic/sustain-
    able/usa vs overseas debate. meaning that
    i am staying in the artist one-of-a-kind realm
    for now. but,hang in there.i’m of the
    baby-boomer generation and have seen many
    trends “come and go”. the idea of a gentler, kinder
    approach is here to stay. there will always be
    the hustler. forget the fly by nights. i especially
    like your “attempted” sustainablity comment
    on your blog. best wishes.

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