An amazing, seemingly recession-proof retail segment which is alive and well.
I just returned from the Expo West Natural Products Show in Anaheim, CA loaded down with literature, pictures, stories and as usual staying up late to tell you all about it.
At 10:00 AM the buyers came flocking in. I don’t know how they got spread out so fast, but they literally filled up the entire venue. Because I figured that many people would not believe me in this economic climate…I took video and pictures. I had just come from Las Vegas the day before at a different show. While there, I tapped my never-failing source of ultimate truth… the taxi drivers.
The cabbies were complaining about the slow business. Vegas is off by an average of 40%. Even I did not drop in my usual $20 in the video poker machine. So apparently Vegas is not where the action is during a recession. I hate it for the people who live and work there but maybe this is a tip for the rest of us as most money is staying at home.
So what is Expo West? it is everything related to natural and organic products from growers, farmers, processors, whole and prepared foods, holistic products, beauty, cosmetics, housewares, organic publications, agencies and everything in between. It was Fancy Food, FMI, Trans World, and Housewares on organic steroids! No one was complaining about the economy either.
If you read my last blog article on coming Full Circle you can start to get an idea about what is going on here. Just take food for instance: As a society we are learning that living closer to the earth is a better for us, not only for the times, but for life. Our parents and especially our grand parents ate that way and now we seek to do the same. Having lived the “modern” way for years we are embracing traditional and more sustainable products. Even my 84 year old mother ate her first “organic” banana in years; she said, “Wow, that tastes like a banana is supposed to taste!” She is a new convert.
Yes the health enthusiasts were there too, it was after all in Southern California. I didn’t let them analyze my aura, nor did I drink any of the hundreds of those natural energy drinks, use the skin lotion or even sweeten my coffee with stevia (OK, I did try some organic Columbian coffee…figured Juan Valdez was watching). What I did do was observe and quietly say to myself, “Wow,” this industry is hot and getting hotter.
If you are in any type of food-related business (seriously…any type), spa and/or health-related business, retail gift shop, cosmetics, and anything that puts you in front of customers who need a break…this could very well be your ticket on the train out of recession. I encourage you to investigate and even start looking up info for the next show which is Expo East.
Our booth was way in the back, but we still mananaged to talk to many interested people about our compostable cellophane, recycled bags, boxes and all the rest. We were showcasing our Green Way™ line of Natural and sustainable packaging. One thing I saw all over the show were those non-woven resuable shopping bags. You know the ones that have a cloth feel but aren’t really cloth. We think these are the great false prophet of the eco-friendly movement because they are not made under the environmental controls we have in the United States (made in China usually), plus they are polyproplyene and made from now cheap mideastern or Asian crude oil. Good intentions, just misdirected IMO.
Also on the personal front I got more information on organic farming at one place than I have been able to get across the entire internet. It was a great trip.
Robby Meadows, Nashville Wraps