The World's Largest Resource for the Cart, Kiosk, and Temporary Retail Industry
by Poornima Apte

Las Vegas—The seventh annual Specialty Retail Entrepreneur Expo & Conference (SPREE) was a huge success by all accounts and especially so for its sponsors. With the heavy foot traffic that trekked through the Mandalay Bay location, April 13-15, vendors kept busy renewing old business leads and making new ones.

SPREE’s premier sponsor, Bellapierre, took full advantage of its prime booth location, immediately inside of the ballroom’s doors. Attendees had an opportunity to see the company’s new line of products—including the “On The Go Trio.” This line puts together either three different colors of lip-gloss, eyeliners or one Trio that combines lip-gloss, eyeliner and mascara into one easy triangular pack that keeps the products from getting lost when in a purse or pocket.

First-time Sponsors
LivePOS, one of SPREE’s associate sponsors, has seen unparalleled success thanks to several key additions to its company and product line. This was the company’s first year as an associate sponsor. The company’s point of sale system was recently featured in Specialty Retail Report. The LivePOS system is a unique hybrid of software at the location (to allow offline capability) and a web-based backend (called the Online Dashboard). When a sale is made, the transaction uses a secure Internet connection to travel to the LivePOS data center. Within a few seconds, the information (items sold, prices, employee names, etc.) is available to be viewed on the Online Dashboard from any laptop, anywhere in the world.

Liad Biton, the company’s chief sales officer, reports that business has been on a rapid growth curve. “We’ve sold another 150 units in the month and half since that story,” Biton said. He added that he was confident the business would continue to grow in the coming months especially given attendee interest at SPREE.

Also sponsoring SPREE for the first time was Pinook, an Orland-based company that makes massagers that allow customers to listen to music or watch video while having a massage. “We’re looking at growing into 200 carts by the end of the year,” said Dvir Lev-Ran, president of Pinook. “We’re looking to launch new products every six months. Right now, we’re mostly in the East, but our main goal here is to gain exposure on the West coast.”

Pinook was one of about 175 exhibitors at SPREE who were swamped with retailers and mall developers all interested in possibly adding the company’s line of portable massagers to their retail lineup. The response from the show was just what Pinook was looking for when the relatively new company signed up to be one SPREE’s associate sponsors.

Leasing managers love SPREE leads
The record-breaking attendance at SPREE also made mall developers and real estate investment trusts (REITs) excited about a possible turn in the economy. “We were here for the first time last year and it was a very positive experience, which allowed us to come back,” said Anita L. Saleh, vice president of specialty leasing at Taubman, also a first-time SPREE associate sponsor.

Wendi Nepute, a regional manager for associate sponsor, CBL Properties, saw plenty of traffic in 2009 and so came back this year with some extra help. “Last year we were crazy busy,” she said. “We brought four people this year, which is typically two more than the prior years.” By all indications from traffic, that was a sound decision.

Building on past success
SPREE also had a good mix of vendors and sponsors returning with new lines and looking for repeat business.

Associate sponsor i-Wrapz drew huge crowds at SPREE last year—which allowed them to try new displays and product lines this year. “Last year worked out really well for us because of this show, but because this year we have a lot more product, the display is a little different. We’re hoping that it’s going to create a lot more buzz,” said i-Wrapz co-owner, Joe Montalvo. The company specializes in covers for cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices.

Pat Yates, president of associate sponsor Happy Feet, was also working on getting his product into the kiosks during what is normally a downtime for his product line of plush slippers. “It’s a little early for us,” said Yates, who during the peak of the holiday season has his product line in as many 125 locations nationwide. “We end up looking (for retailers) in May, June, July, but we’re showing the product, trying to find leads on people that would do them all over the country and be able to stay in touch with them.”

Associate sponsor, SEACRET, gave interested attendees a sneak peek at its yet-to-be-released Magnetic Mud Mask, which, says leasing manager Sheena Hinds, evens skin tone and cleans pores.

“The big thing is that there’s no water required and it doesn’t get messy like a normal mask,” she said.

Networking a key
With most of Arizona Central Insurance’s business coming by way of telephone, SPREE has become a regular on the company’s schedule because of its unique opportunity to bring retailers, leasing managers and vendors together under one roof.

“Really, most of the people in here are already our customers so it’s nice to keep visiting, have a presence,” said Louise Orozco of associate sponsor, Arizona Central Insurance. “These are people that we talk to on the phone across the country. We provide insurance across the country so it’s kind of fun.”

As SPREE wrapped up, vendors and attendees alike were buoyed by the positive response and energy at the show. “This year was jamming,” Anita Saleh at Taubman said. “It was encouraging and showed that there was an economic uptick a little bit.”

SPREE would like to extend a hearty Thank You! to its premier sponsor, Bellapierre, and all its associate sponsors. Thanks also to Jones Lang Lasalle for sponsoring the social event at the House of Blues. For full SPREE coverage, check out the summer ’10 issue of Specialty Retail Report.

For more information about the show and to plan for next year’s SPREE (April 12-14, 2011) please visit SPREEShow.com.

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