Going to, and Prepping for: The FANCY FOOD SHOW | OLIVE FANTASTIC

Going to, and Prepping for: The FANCY FOOD SHOW

Date: January 12, 2016

The Fancy Food Show is a critical step to take for every small gourmet food business looking to take themselves to the next level for both wholesale and retail sales.


I’m asked all the time if the Fancy Food Show is an event worth attending and having a booth at, mostly because it’s so “expensive!” My answer is always, “YES!” There are many reasons why, but here are what I feel are the most important. First: Exposure, there is no other event like it in the USA that has your exact customer demographic attending it, specifically looking for products like yours, from small gourmet companies (i.e. gourmet food). Second: Branding & Marketing – getting your company’s name, story, look, feel, product and you (the actual person and face behind the company) in front of all these potential buyers is extremely powerful. Your company, and you, become tangible in person, instead of trying to tell a customer who you are and what makes you special over the phone or email. At the show, the customer has a chance to interact with you face to face, taste your products along with you, hear your story and be brought into your world for just a few seconds or minutes. This can be incredibly impactful, so much so, it results in sales and relationships that last for years. Also, getting your company in front of so many people, helps to “brand” you (possibly the most important item here, because your brand goes beyond you, because it’s memorable), marketing your company to the world essentially. The more you are seen, the more recognizable your brand becomes, which can validate you as a solid business. Third: Sales, standing in person with your customer can allow you to close the “sale,” and get commitments you otherwise would spend days and days getting through emails and phone calls. Plus, instant gratification feels so good. Dealing in person is king. Fourth and lastly: you have a chance to collect names, emails and addresses for future marketing, no matter who it is, everyone is a potential customer and resource. Make it a goal to collect as many names as possible, over 100 is fantastic!

I have a ton of experience to share with you (feel free to email me with questions: dewey@olivefantastic.com):

The Fancy Food Show has always been very successful for me, and I’ve been to 13 of them, 8 in San Francisco and 5 in New York. I’ve run a booth at 6 of them, where I designed it, setup logistics, physically set it up in a 10’x10’ space, ran it for 3 days and then broke it down to send back home. It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding.

You are going, YES!

OK, so you have decided you want to go and take the big leap, right on, exciting, let’s do this!

Do you buy a space and have your own booth, or join a trade booth?

If you can afford to purchase and run your own booth, I recommend going this route, you’ll have the best return on your investment. The other route is joining another booth at the show. Many trade organizations or states even, in the food industry, have their own booths or areas that you can participate in, or “rent” for shorter periods of time, even half a day allowing you to show your product and get the leads collected at the booth. This is much more affordable of course if you are just getting started, and allows you to dip your toe into the water, so to say. I recommend the later if it’s your first time to the Fancy Food Show, if it’s a possibility.

At the New York Fancy Food Show 2015 representing Bozzano Olive Ranch

At the New York Fancy Food Show 2015 representing Bozzano Olive Ranch in the California Olive Oil Council booth

Do you attend the Winter or Summer Fancy Food Show?

Ultimately, due to logistical costs of transportation, shipping, hotel rooms, etc…I would base your decision on your location, choosing the shortest distance from you. Of course if you live in the middle of the country, you have more freedom to choose. The Summer New York Fancy Food show is a larger event than the Winter San Francisco Fancy Food Show. Where New York is more of an international event, and San Francisco more local and domestic. Keep in mind that the attendees typically come from the surrounding area (West Coast & East Coast).  So this could play into your decision making too. Caution: doing New York for your first Fancy Food Show could be very overwhelming. Perhaps visit it in person first, then get a booth the following year.


Here are a few things I’ve learned that I’d like to share with you if you plan to have your own booth:

  1. Sign up as early as possible. For the Fancy Food Show, you receive your booth space in a timeslot for the next year.
  2. Plan 6 months out & schedule due dates for everything
  3. Design your booth for simplicity, and make sure it strongly represents your brand
    1. Brand – your booth needs to reflect your brand, if you are high-end, you’ll have to spend a little more and make it look and feel high-end.  That’s just the way it is. If your core colors are blue and green, don’t have yellow or orange in the booth.  Be your brand and no more.
    2. Functionality is key – consider the flow of customers by your booth, visual aspects like what will customers look at first, lighting, and how it is assembled (Make it easy! And feather light!)
    3. Size – keep it simple (unless you have the money, and you want to make an impression…then by all means, GO BIG! Seriously, I have, and it always worked)
    4. Lighting – if you can use your own lighting, do it. Statistically, booths that are brighter with more light & color, get more foot traffic.
    5. Flooring – sounds funny, but a cushy floor will really feel good on day 2, and heaven on day 3. There are many ways to do it, with carpet or foam flooring.  Your customers will love it!
    6. Shipping container – smaller and lighter the better, it needs to fit everything you’ll need, because they limit you on what you can bring into the event by hand. However, I have kept booths so simple, that we have carried everything in by hand to save on shipping and labor fees.  Just make sure you can carry it, whatever it is, even if it’s on wheels.
      1. Don’t forget to setup shipping early and compare at least 3 rates (Dewey’s Law of 3’s)
    7. Mock setup – build your whole booth in your warehouse, backyard, living room, wherever. Making sure it all works, and you have everything you need.
  4. Decide on your team’s attire, to match your brand and booth look/feel
  5. Create a list of what needs to go (I’ve provided a free list – Click here to get it)
    1. Put team members in charge of certain things
  6. Create a schedule for the entire trip, have each day lined out hour by hour, put team members in charge of certain things.
  7. Contact your customers at least twice before the event!
    1. E-blast your entire wholesale list of customers, letting them know you’ll be at the show, what booth you’ll be in, and to pre-schedule meetings with you. Entice them with new product or cool giveaways to get them to your booth if you can, but don’t be cheesy!
    2. Don’t forget, if you can set up meetings before the event, do it. Now is the time to meet with everyone you possibly can in person, because then you won’t have to do it the rest of the year more than likely. Saving you a ton of time and money.
  8. Arrange all your shipping early: to and from the event
    1. Have everything ready to ship 3 weeks prior to shipping
  9. Set goals for your booth and team to keep things lively and fun
    1. Number of leads per day
    2. Number of sales per day
    3. Biggest sale gets a bonus – make it fun, like a $25 gift card to Starbucks
    4. Number of comments on your booth
    5. Number of comments on your outfit
    6. Get creative here folks, because this will give your booth energy, and you need that to be successful no matter who you are.

To help you prepare for the Fancy Food Show, I’ve created a list of darn near everything you could possibly take: Get your FREE list here =>Event Material List – Fancy Food Show – You Have a Booth

Dewey at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show 2015 - Bozzano Olive Ranch Booth

Dewey at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show 2015 – Bozzano Olive Ranch Booth


Fancy Food Show

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I love talking olive oil, please feel free to contact me via email or phone. Here is my contact information:

Dewey Lucero
Olive Fantastic
9385 Old State Hwy, Unit #4
Newcastle, CA 95658
Phone: 530-514-4006
Fax: 4215 4879 125
Email: dewey@olivefantastic.com