What I learned from my Trade Show

by Christopher F on November 30, 2011


This weekend we did our very first trade show, representing a couple of our local coffee farmers at the Islandwide Craft and Food Expo here in sunny Honolulu.  For three days we sold two different coffee brands, Sea Mountain Coffee, and Menehune Maid Brand Coffee, both from the Ka’u region of the Big Island.  The Craft and Food Expo is an opportunity for local artisans to showcase their foods and crafts to local sellers. 

Below are a few of the things we learned by doing this gift expo:



  • Only give samples if it showcases your products.  We gave samples of our coffee that showed the quality of the taste.  Our neighbor sold gift baskets, and giving food samples only distracted customers.  Their sales skyrocketed once they quit providing samples.
  • Don’t just leave samples out for people to take.  We pored samples for people instead of leaving them out.  This allowed us to engage customers as they taste, and not just grab and run.  The grazers will pass you bye but the people interested will wait the three seconds for you to pore.
  • Have plenty of samples.  We gave over 1,500 samples and actually ran out of cups in the middle of the second day.  Scrambling to find a place that can sell you cups on a Saturday afternoon is stressful.
  • Set your samples apart.  We made our coffee in French presses which not only (in our opinion) showcases the coffee the best, but also interested potential customers in how it worked. Good thing we had extra presses as we broker two of those as well.

Your Booth

  • Let your banner be your decorations.  We were required to have a tree and a wreath but everyone looked for the signs, not the lights.
  • Be in the middle.  We had our booth along the outer edges which seemed to get less foot traffic then the middle booths.


  • Take the opportunity to meet people.  We took the time to talk with potential wholesale customers for our products.
  • Be kind to your competitors, just distinguish yourself.  We had another local farm that was selling coffee as well.  They made great coffee, the difference between us and them was in roasts.

Know your product

  • Our dark roast was a hit.  While having the bold tastes of South American coffees, the typical lack of bitterness is what continued to impress and surprise people.
  • What makes your product special?  Just tasting our coffee answered that question, but knowing the region where it came from and where the farms were located impressed people.

Don’t forget to smile.  Take pride in your products and how good they are.  Also, don’t forget to tell them where to reorder and the sale price you have versus the stores or online.  If you want to try the coffees that impressed everyone at the show, use the code GIFT for $1 off.  Here is what impressed everyone.  Menehune Maid Coffee