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A Golden Anniversary for Eby-Expo


Convenience distributor Eby-Brown Co. LLC celebrated the golden anniversary of its Eby-Expo trade show in April by bringing together more than 1,200 registered attendees at the Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa in Michigan City, Ind. The 50th anniversary installment of the event marked a major change from its first incarnation decades ago.

“It’s huge for us,” Senior Vice President of Merchandising John Scardinas told Convenience Store News. “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, Scardinas 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 focused on offering retailer attendees value, and showcasing its category management technology and foodservice offerings that are designed to assist convenience store operators on multiple levels.

“There are a lot of different retailers that we service, everything from a small one-store operator that does a great business in a great local community that doesn’t need expanded programs, to others that want to be in sophisticated and complicated programs,” Scardinas explained. “We have to be the experts in what we do and what they do, and I think that’s one of the biggest values that we provide.”

On the show floor, Eby-Brown displayed its four-part proprietary foodservice program:

  • Aroma Bay Café: This 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: This 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: 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.

Foodservice has become “critical” for all retailers, Scardinas said, but success in the category requires a consistent product and a consistent experience for customers.

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