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March 30, 2012

In 1982 I attended my first SF Fancy Food Show in Brooks Hall, and in the past 30 years have probably trod thousands of miles of industrial carpet past 10,000s of exhibition stands (or booths as we Americans call them). During my peak travel years I might walk 12 trade show floors in 10 different cities located in six different countries in a ten month period.

You learn to walk quickly, your eyes sweeping from left to right 15 feet ahead to catch the sight of something new. We didn’t always buy shelf goods, we developed product; which means that we were at shows to find manufacturers we could work with in the future. [Only then would we enter a stand and start a discussion].

Trade show were primarily for sourcing…factory visits were for development.

Unless this sounds mechanical, let me add that trade shows were (and are) also reunions where producers, former colleagues and other veterans greet in mid-stride with a European cheek kiss — mostly two sides, sometimes three, but never just one — and stride on with an exuberant wave and a cheery, “we must catch up”.

Deals are made, referrals given, and old ties renewed. It was with great pleasure that I read Mike Coldani’s account of his trade show experience — one from inside the booth. Please enjoy!

California Olive Oil

Our company still consists of all family members and we split up the jobs of farming, sales, marketing, packaging, & distribution.  Growing this small family business has been a blast and our best sales pitch to date has always been to simply get someone to taste the oil.  We are proud of the unique and elaborate packaging and design but we always say it tastes as good as it looks.  Getting a following and people to taste the oil often involves setting up tasting booths which leads me to this topic.

At first glance it seems our yearly calendar has something on nearly every weekend of the year.  Our family trades off who attends the events and many of them are attended by all of us as a group.  From the Paso Robles Olive Oil Festival to the San Francisco Fancy Food show all the way down to our local Lodi…

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