More than 10,000 distributors on Tuesday flooded the aisles of the trade floor at The PPAI Expo 2024 – the largest and longest-running trade show in the promotional products industry.

Covering roughly 1 million square feet in scope, the trade floor featured more than 2,500 booths and nearly 1,000 exhibitors, offering the latest products in every category.

Shyloh Rhodes, brand development and recognition specialist at Shingle Springs, California-based Arnolds for Awards (PPAI 303463, D2), was enamored with a bath robe from Scottsdale, Arizona-based Kashwere (PPAI 642505, S6).

“It was more waterproof than anything and perfect for hospitality industry,” Rhodes says.

She also commended Eileen Joy Spitalny, co-founder and co-owner of Phoenix-based Fairytale Brownies (PPAI 317978, S5), for offering plenty of inspiration.

“She had so many good ideas, like 17 different ways that I can sell her brownies,” Rhodes says. 

First-time Expo attendees Caleb Keys of San Antonio-based Merch Media (PPAI 190421, D2) was impressed with the knives and leather-bound journals from Greer, South Carolina-based Sarge International (PPAI 354321, S3).

“I’m relatively new to the industry and exploring what all the options are,” Keys says.

Meanwhile, fellow first timer Raymond Sikorski, CEO and president of Tampa, Florida-based Verified Label, Print & Promotions (PPAI 287184, D3), says The PPAI Expo is five times bigger than other industry trade shows he’s attended.

“I’ve gotten so many different product ideas that I have to go back to my office, make a presentation to my team and have them help me sort it down to what I present to our clients,” Sikorski says.

Foothill Ranch, California-based Dirty Cookie (PPAI 814973, S1), which previously appeared on “Shark Tank,” captured his interest.

“I’m looking for higher-end, brand name products, sustainable products and food products,” Sikorski says. “Maple Ridge Farms dominates our industry, so I’m looking for things that are different. We lost a couple sales recently to a company that went to a high-end, boutique cookie place for the holidays.”

Several products caught the eye of Jodi Frank, CEO of Wilmington, Delaware-based Frank Communication Solutions (PPAI 491480, D1).

Syosset, New York-based WOWLine (PPAI 112440, S4) offered cinnamon flavored toothpicks, which Frank thinks might appeal to a “55 and older” crowd. “It’s nostalgia, it’s retro,” Frank says.

Mosinee, Wisconsin-based Maple Ridge Farms (PPAI 114165, S8) – ranked the No. 46 supplier in the inaugural PPAI 100 – introduced a new bottle of extra virgin olive oil in a wooden crate. “They really go out there and find the unique flavors of the food and package them in a way that we can use as gifts. Who doesn’t cook with olive oil?”

Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Edwards Garment (PPAI 198530, S11) – ranked the No. 20 supplier in the inaugural PPAI 100 – has some newer apparel options for women that are more business casual. “They’re offering things that will hopefully fill the void that we see from Tri-Mountain not being in our industry anymore,” Frank says.

And after racking up the steps all day, Lorette Chambers of Richmond Hill, Ontario-based Promote Me (PPAI 271300, D4) enjoyed Freestyle Rocker XL from GCI Outdoor, offered by Tampa, Florida-based Koozie Group (PPAI 114187, S13) – ranked the No. 10 supplier in the inaugural PPAI 100.

“When we come to a show like this, there are so many different products that we see,” Chambers says. “It’s incredible because that’s what we’re in the business for. We’re looking for the new and improved and what’s next.”