Made in NH Expo, April 5-7
Friday, March 29, 2013
By GEORGE PELLETIER
MANCHESTER – Celebrating its 18th year, Millyard Communications will host its Made in New Hampshire Expo at Manchester’s Radisson Hotel on April 5-7.
Millyard Communications President Heidi Copeland said the show’s mantra is, “We bought local before buying local was cool.”
That buying stems from the 150 businesses in New Hampshire that manufacture products or provide a service in the Granite State, with a “try it and buy it” doctrine.
“On Friday, April 5, the show is open to the public, but we invite wholesale distributors who come to the show for free,” said Millyard Communications President Heidi Copeland. “These businesses will get huge exposure where companies such as WalMart or Hannaford’s attend. Plus hundreds of gift shops from the New England area have an opportunity to establish wholesale accounts.”
Copeland listed the example of vendor Planet Marshmallow’s partners, Heather Cox and Kristi Buttler.
“It took (Planet Marshmallow) two years to develop the perfect gourmet marshmallow,” Copeland said. “Two months before the Made In NH show, they got 20 wholesale accounts by August of that year and had moved her facility out of a home facility and into a full-on manufacturing facility and grew their business way beyond what they normally could have done.”
In addition, businesses can get exposure to anywhere from 12,000-20,000 Granite Staters who are excited to go to the show and see what’s new, what’s different and purchase from their old favorites, Copeland said.
The quagmire of the situation actually lies in the success rate of the expo itself, for as companies grow from a small home-based venture to a full manufacturer, or even a national company, they don’t necessarily need the expo any longer.
“That’s true,” Copeland said. “One of the things that’s always sad for us is feeling like we gave birth to a company and that company really thrives and they tend to be too big to come back to the show. Stonyfield Yogurt is a good example; however, they’ll occasionally come back to support other businesses or help offset the cost for other businesses.”
This year, according to Copeland, there are many new companies.
“We have two granola companies, we have a company that makes shampoo and another that makes hair dye,” she said. “Who knew somebody in NH makes hair dye?”
Other vendors range from wino to beano.
“We have several vineyards there and Sap House Meatery, which makes a honey-based wine,” Copeland said. “We also have NH based restaurant chains, such as The Common Man, who will be there making their signature crab cake salad. We also have furniture manufacturers, and the company Yogibo, which makes- well they don’t like to be called bean bag furniture, but it’s this totally cool furniture that helps everybody from kids to pregnant women sleep better, or just have fun. And we’ll have three days of entertainment on the stage. So we have a lot of NH-based musicians, the Palace Theatre will be there to perform and we have dance studios and magicians - all statewide-based.”
Copeland said for an exhibitor, this is a business opportunity; for somebody attending, it’s a true try-it-and-buy-it show, as 80 percent of exhibitors have a product that can be sampled.
“You can literally fill up on all the samples,” she said. “From hot sauce and salsa to crackers and sweets. It really is a great experience. You come in, visit all these companies, the vibe is very upbeat, you can have lunch or have dinner, and meet a lot of people. The excitement level is very high.”
The question as to whether or not the Expo has outgrown itself is moot, as 30% of this year’s vendors have never attended before.
“There is a challenge,” Copeland said. “We actually sell out most years and we could use a large convention hall, but there isn’t one in the state. We, as a business through our partnerships, have tried to come up with a bigger venue because we could make the show bigger, but we just can’t find the space.
“New Hampshire ingenuity is never ending. Take for example Michelle’s Sweet Shop and her gourmet popcorn. She started small and now her product has national notoriety; it’s in the swag bags at the Oscars.”
The goal is simple – everything at Millyard is about helping businesses thrive in New Hampshire, Copeland said.
“So we look at this as an opportunity to work with predominantly the smallest businesses in the state, and give them an opportunity to break into wholesale and retail markets, and create brand awareness among attendees. And there is no other way that they can do that in such a big way,” she said.
The Radisson Hotel/Center of NH Expo Center is at 700 Elm St., in Manchester. Times are 1-8 p.m. Friday, April 5; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, April 6; and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, April 7.
Admission is $9 for adults; $8 for seniors; and $3 for children. For more information, Events NH at 626-6354.