The winter air was frigid on Feb. 26, the first day of the S. Abraham & Sons (SAS) 2015 Vendor Exhibit and Trade Show, but SAS President Alan Abraham had warm months on his mind.
“Spring is right around the corner,” he said, noting that most of the distributor’s client base is located in the upper Midwest and was still grappling with winter weather. “We try to get them to see all the new things and the old standbys that sell in the summertime, and get their stores ready for the spring and summer business. It’s kind of like a chance to hope for a good summer.”
More than 200 vendors exhibited their wares to convenience store chains and single-store owners at the show, held Feb. 26–27 at DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids, Mich. The event’s Hollywood theme invited attendees to “celebrate the stars of convenience retailing” and cast a spotlight on new items at the 21st Century Convenience Store and Food Court showcase.
On the show floor, numerous suppliers highlighted variations on existing favorites. The Kellogg Co. featured peanut butter-based Pop Tarts Gone Nutty, which c-stores are encouraged to place alongside coffee to promote as a bundled purchase, and single-serve Pringles with attached dip.
For c-stores that want to offer upscale treats, Calico Cottage demonstrated a fudge retailing program that lets retailers make their own fudge in-store using butter, water and Calico’s fudge mix. With two hours of work, a store can create enough fudge slabs in multiple flavors to fill an entire display.
Among exhibiting foodservice vendors, AdvancePierre Foods aimed to stand out with a hybrid cheeseburger roller grill hot dog, while Green Chile Food Co. differentiated itself as a maker of premium “microbatch” burritos. SAS itself plans to make foodservice one of its main focuses in 2015, Alan Abraham told Convenience Store News.
Several suppliers agreed that “spicy” is a growing flavor trend on the savory side, while salted caramel is increasingly popular in sweet products.
Retailers in attendance, meanwhile, listed better-for-you products and new electronic cigarette offerings among their most sought-out items at the SAS show.
Grand Rapids-based S. Abraham & Sons serves convenience, grocery, drug and campus retail stores in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri.