Expo East drew distributors from across the region; pre-registration numbers were up eight percent over 2015 show actuals.

Expo East finished strong on Saturday, March 19, having delivered a bustling, energetic show experience at the Atlantic City Convention Center. This year marked the show’s fourth in the city and its second in conjunction with the Imprinted Sportswear Show, and attendees enjoyed the same high level of exhibits, education and networking events they’ve come to expect from one of the promotional products industry’s leading trade shows.

“Expo East is poised to become the most important live trade-show and learning event on the East Coast,” says PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE. “It delivers all of the traditional benefits of an industry trade show, and the co-location with the Imprinted Sportswear Shows and support of four strong regional associations brings a dynamic element not seen in any other industry event. The top-notch educational program—highlighted by a Keynote and Cocktails presentation by Seth Godin—helped draw the most creative and innovative minds in business looking to drive business in a transforming marketplace. I have heard from both suppliers and distributors that Expo East continues to improve and evolve, and there is a growing support for our strategy to build an Expo-like experience on the East Coast.”

Expo East began on Wednesday with Education Day, giving attendees their choice of more than 50 education sessions in seven tracks. Al Donius, vice president of sales at Buffalo, New York, distributor KW Textile, Inc., joined a session on staying on the right side of regulations when decorating apparel. “As you know, this is an extremely boring and confusing topic,” he says. “That being said, it was very well prepared and did an excellent job of explaining what our responsibilities are as distributors and the situations where we are viewed as manufacturers. It clearly identified what we should adopt as best practices and I left that seminar actually feeling confident that I have everything I need to be compliant with the CPSIA requirements for youth apparel. Every distributor and supplier should attend this seminar.”


Jim Socci, CAS, (left) president of Artistic Toy, presents an Education Day session on brands; (right) Keynote & Cocktails speaker Seth Godin visits with an attendee after his Thursday afternoon presentation as PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone looks on.

In the second year of their partnership, Expo East and the Imprinted Sportswear Show adopted a new show pattern for 2016. Running Wednesday through Saturday, the move to start earlier in the week was made to meet the needs of exhibitors and attendees alike, and make the show more accessible to distributors.

Michael Moore, president of exhibitor Bay State Specialty Co., says, “I was a little concerned about the feedback I’d heard in the past so I came down here to check it out to see if the show was going to continue. I am pleasantly surprised by the attendance. The quality of the attendees is great. Shows on weekends can be tough for suppliers and distributors, but today [Saturday] was absolutely fantastic. I’m seeing quality distributors here. People are interested and they have time to talk.”

Greg Johnson, sales consultant at exhibitor Anico International Inc., says, “Yesterday’s show was really good. We are very happy—lots of people, lots of leads, lots of quotes.”

Patricia Dugan, MAS, vice president of sales/marketing for exhibitor Budgetcard, says, “The show has been phenomenal. I would say 95 percent of everyone I’m seeing is looking for ideas; very few people just want to be scanned. For us, it’s been extremely successful. I’m going to sign up for next year.”

Click on the videos below for more comments from Expo East exhibitors and attendees. Read more about the show, including a peek at best-selling products in this year’s Product Pavilion and highlights from Expo East keynote speaker presentations, plus see more of the show in pictures in the Expo East Daily at expoeastdaily.ppai.org.