Catching Up With Chris

Showcase More Than Could Be Expected

January 15, 2013
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So I got asked more than once during and after my first trip to the Private Label Manufacturers Association Trade Show what I thought of it.

And by no means was the PLMA show the biggest one I’d attended this year. The Expoalimentaria in Peru, the National Association of Convenience Stores show in Las Vegas, and Pack Expo in Chicago all were bigger in terms of square footage or attendance.

But there was an entirely different feel, for me, attending PLMA. I used the term “overwhelming” when people would ask, and I don’t use that term lightly. I’m a writer and an editor, I tend to choose my words and phrases fairly carefully.

At so many of the trade shows that we’ve had the chance to attend this year, finding our audience was somewhat akin to finding a needle in the haystack. Buried amongst the hundreds or thousands of exhibitors are the dozens that make up our magazine’s audience, the exhibitors dealing in private label that we want to meet and introduce to our readers.

And walking along the aisles are the few private label buyers that we want to talk with to gain their insights on what we’re providing them in the magazine, and what they might be interested in reading or using down the road.

None of that was the same at the PLMA show. Every single vendor, every booth, every person on the exhibitor side of the stage was our audience. Every product was available for private label use, every trend a potential newsworthy story.

Walking the aisles was not a bunch of category managers and buyers who deal solely with national brands. These all were people who work on private label programs, finding new products to bring to their supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores, dollar stores, warehouse clubs, mass merchandisers, and foodservice programs.

Where to start? Where to stop? The sense of wanting to spend five minutes with every single booth and every single buyer in the building was, well, overwhelming.
So by the time the end of Tuesday came around, that’s when the mad dash began, the sprint to exchange cards with as many booths as possible before time ran out. For all of you who were at the show whom I did not see, I apologize for not getting to your booth. Believe me, it was not a matter of not wanting to speak, to learn, to listen.

If you were at the show and we haven’t connected, drop me a line when you have a chance and let me know what kind of business you’re doing and what’s up in your corner of the private label world. Among the many things that we’re always looking for here are companies with expertise in categories that we can talk with for stories each month. So be sure to get your name on our list.

Buyers and retail executives, it would have been great to see all of you and chat about our industry. That’s one of my favorite things to do these days. So feel free to write and say hi when you have time, and maybe we can get together for lunch or dinner at our next mutual show.

Next time, maybe, it won’t be so overwhelming.

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