MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — Convenience store distributor Eby-Brown Co. LLC celebrated the golden anniversary of its Eby-Expo trade show on Thursday. The 50th anniversary installment of the event is being held at the Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa in Michigan City through Friday, with more than 1,200 registered attendees.
"It's huge for us," Senior Vice President of Merchandising John Scardina told CSNews Online. "We basically held our first show in a cattle barn."
The Naperville, Ill.-based company was the first wholesale distributor to host its own trade show five decades ago, Scardina said, and the event back then was a much smaller affair. In contrast, the 2015 Eby-Expo was bustling as soon as its doors opened as retailers came to seek out the latest products and services.
At the show, Eby-Brown is focused on offering retailer attendees value, and showcasing its category management technology and foodservice offerings. The distributor services "everything from a small little one-store operator that does a great business ... that doesn't need expanded programs, to others that want to be in sophisticated and complicated programs," Scardina said.
On this year's show floor, Eby-Brown displayed its four-part proprietary foodservice program:
- Aroma Bay Café: The coffee and hot beverage program features popular flavors like Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino and adventurous combos like Toffee Nut Brownie Coffee. Signage includes a "Now Brewing" section to highlight limited-time offerings.
- Savory Corner Café: The hot food program comes in the form of Hot-To-Go, a heated merchandising unit; a roller grill, with the option of a sliding cover to improve the look of items on the grill; and Heat & Eat, a combination of countertop refrigeration, microwave and condiment/chip rack.
- Wakefield Sandwiches: These "fresh, never frozen" sandwiches and wraps particularly appeal to female shoppers through their paper-style packaging.
- Crisp Acres: As the newest component of Eby-Brown's proprietary offerings, this fresh whole-fruit program includes best-selling whole fruits such as apples, oranges and bananas; a product handling guide; and multi-tiered basket display. The Chiquita To Go program ships bananas in a vacuum-sealed Stay Fresh Pack that extends the storage and shelf life, helping c-store operators balance their weekly delivery needs with an appropriately ripe offering.
Supplier exhibitors on the expo floor, meanwhile, showcased bold and spicy new savory flavors; new seasonal and miniature candy products, including Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups Minis; and new snacks for various dayparts.