We attended the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, CA this last week, March 12 – 14, 2010. While there is good news about Natural Products Expo (www.expowest.com), there is plenty to be unhappy about regarding the show.
We heard from New Hope Media http://www.newhope.com/, the company that runs the expo, that they had “gone green” and everything was now paperless. No more phone book size catalogs, no more plastic badge covers and paperless press room. All that is fine and I have no problem with it, but if they are saving all that money on the “paperless expo”, why does the price of the booths at the expo keep going up. Every year it’s another $400 – $500 for a booth. You would think that some of that savings might be passed along to the exhibitors but instead we are looked upon as ATM machines rather than customers.
Then there is the union, Freeman http://www.freemanco.com who charges outrageous amounts of money to do almost nothing and NEVER even offers a “Thank you for doing business with us”. You get nothing from this group but a bill that has already been charged to your credit card. They move a pallet or two for you and you get a bill for $1000 or more. They don’t allow anyone to use a hand cart on the floor. Everything must be carried in by hand if you are not using them. This is so you will be FORCED to use them. Forcing is what unions are best at. We rent space at a warehouse that charges us $5.00 per pallet to off-load them and bring them to our rental space. This is because they aren’t union. Another thing that Freeman is short on is politeness and professionalism. Their attitude is that we are lucky, so lucky, that they are there to help us. If it wasn’t a union doing this everyone knows that the cost for their services would be 25% of what they are charging.
I may be the only one to be writing about this, but I did not talk to a single exhibitor who did not agree with me that this show was a ripoff and it got worse every year. The Natural Products EXPO has gone green alright, right into their pockets. Personally, I think that their entire “Gone Green” stance is nothing but a marketing tool. I think that if “Going Purple” or any other color would make them money they would do that as well. I’m not against it but I know a marketing ploy when I see one. Which brings me to my last point:
What I really resented was their keynote speaker: Bill McKibben, who is a political activist of sorts. I listen to his keynote address and the one thing that stuck in my memory was that CNN had reported his organizing efforts on October 24, 2009 as “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” Nothing against political action or trying to do something positive but I deeply resent going to a Natural Products Expo and finding that the keynote speaker is a political activist who we are suppose to clap for and support their efforts, when in fact no one really knew who McKibben is (he has a long history) and what his political organization does. And yet there was an entire room full of people who clapped like seals for him every time he uttered another one of his platitudes.
I don’t have anything against Bill McKibben or 350.org, but I resent a health expo being politicized by anyone, any group, for any reason. Right, center, left, it doesn’t matter. I didn’t travel across half the country to listen to someone political pitch, regardless of what it was, and someone telling us that this is all “good for us.” I didn’t hear one word about health out of his mouth. Somehow, I believe that I wasn’t suppose to care about that.
The Natural Products EXPO use to be about health, not politics. Now it’s about big business and getting as much money from the vendors as they possibly can. It’s about politics and money.
Expo East, Natural Product EXPO, in Boston 2009 was terrible. I exhibited the first year in Boston and attended in 2009. It was very poorly attended. Boston is extremely expensive and the convention center difficult to get to. It is the worse city to have an expo I know of. NPE East was great when it was in Baltimore then they moved it. Do yourself a favor and skip it in 2010. I love Boston, but it’s not worth it. Ask any of the vendors from 2009 what they thought of it. It was the most dead expo I have ever attended. You won’t get ripped off from the “green” New Hope Media and the ridiculously high-priced unions and you won’t be lectured to by political activists trying to pass themselves off as health advocates.