SPREE – Merchandising And Marketing Conference To Boost New Business Ideas

Hynes Convention Center in downtown Boston was a sight to see between 2nd June to 4th June. Thousands and thousands of attendees came to join in the annual SPREE. We could see participants from New England (50%), New York (16%), New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Dubai, and many from the United Arab Emirates at the Specialty Retail Entrepreneur Expo and Conference. 

Most attendees were cart and kiosk retailers, wholesalers, owners of different types of stores, specialty leasing managers, mall managers, and others. 

The stage was to discuss new business concepts, old-fashioned networking, and valuable industry practices. To make things interesting, the management also introduced after-hours fun! 

The event was extended over three days, during which the attendees and exhibitors mingled and participated in seminar sessions. A cocktail party was arranged on Thursday night, followed by Pokerfest on Friday.  

Then on Saturday evening, educational seminars were conducted. More than 200 participants discussed topics ranging from “Choosing the Right Product and Locations” to “Inside Secrets of Specialty Retail.” The seminar also included a roundtable on the Specialty Leasing Manager/Wholesales Track. According to the event reports, two of the most trending topics of the conferences were “How To Find New Merchants and Concepts” and “Hiring and Managing Your Sales Team.” 

The trade show director for SPREE, Sally Miller, shared her reviews: “SPREE is one of the few opportunities retailers, and prospective retailers have to meet face-to-face with wholesales, property managers, developers, and service providers all in one place.

Most attendees came in to hunt for new products and networking opportunities. Consequently, some were able to strike good deals during the event. For example, a wholesaler increased his cart representation by 17 locations. All this thanks to one of the contacts he made at the show. 

Was It a Hit?

The event’s success can be determined by the fact that 75% of the exhibitors (2005) also intend to take part in the following year. Moreover, 81% shared positive reviews about their experience with high hopes of attending it again. 

Following SPREE’s success, there are ongoing plans to arrange two shows in 2006. This one will be in Boston in May and the other in Long Beach, California, expected in July. There is a possibility of a third show. It may be arranged in 2007, but the location has not yet been determined. Nonetheless, you should mark your calendars if you want to be part of all the fun and profit! 

There is no doubt that SPREE displayed a fantastic range of merchandise. As Miller said, “We aim to become a regional show rather than a national expo so that different audiences in cities across the US can attend a show, rather than having to travel so far to one of the major annual events.” The event created quite a buzz, and then a handful of items sent ripples of awe through the audience’s interest. Let’s take a look! 

Zip-It Bags

Visitors adored the zip-it bag available in four different sizes (from small to extra large). The product was demonstrated in the SPREE market. The passers-by could not help but stop to take a look at the attractive handbag/shoulder bag available in 580 colors! 

Moreover, they could choose a solid-colored bag or one with a striped look as per their liking. The choice was attractive to shoppers, undoubtedly. Moreover, it was pretty catchy for retailers, too, as it offered at least a 300% markup. 

Next Generation Interactive Video Games

These were another hot category of products that were displayed in SPREE. The video games were available for hands-on trial. The next-generation games offered a combination of TC-based video software with player participation! You could find interactive tennis, kickboxing, and much more. 

Source Pro and SDW demonstrated their latest workout programs that guaranteed to burn as much as 450 calories an hour. Amazing, right? 

Overbreak’s Rattle Rox 

It’s pretty pointless but super attractive for kids; the toy makes rattlesnake noises which were quite entertaining. 

The show-goers also entertained the audience by continuously banging the two oblong-shaped magnets to make the particular noise repeatedly. The toy was flexible as it could be flipped, tossed, and spun for more fun. What made it more attractive was the super affordable price tag. 

Contribution of Awesome Specialties International In Collaboration with Disney 

The two giants have come together to sell a new generation of personalized children’s products. These range from Disney-loved characters like Snow White or Lion King. 

Personalized CDs and books that incorporated a child’s name into the storyline or a poem were also displayed. 

Then Things Were Wrapped Up

Friday Pokerfest, co-produced by Gift Giant and NYS Collection, was fun! It was held in a ballroom at the nearby Sheraton Boston Hotel. Initially, we could only see 75 players and a crowd of about 40 people. Still, soon many joined the tables as Sal Babbion, co-owner of NYS Collection, and Michael Brielmann, president and CEO of Gift Giant, provided entertaining commentary for the bystanders. 

There were professionals in the game, determined to score the win, and then, some were there just for fun! That is what made the game even more interesting to watch. With the growing audience, the competition grew intense. By the time the final table was drawn, we could see some onlookers standing on the chair for a better view! 

Christine Silva, a specialty leasing assistant at Jersey Gardens, finally won the Pokerfest championship. She scored a hefty prize package too! Others who made it to the final table were awarded prizes. These including a karaoke machine, iPod, personal DVD player, digital camera, TIVO video recorder, and a set of 500 poker chips in a classy aluminum case.