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Fancy Food Show Tests Longer Hours

NEW YORK - Show floor hours at the 50th Annual Summer Fancy Food Show were extended two hours daily in an experiment inspired by retailer requests. This year the show, which concluded its run at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here on Tuesday, ran from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

"The extended hours were in response to retailer concerns that they couldn't cover the show in the hours available without an extension," John Roberts, president of the New York-based National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc., which runs the show, as well as sister shows in San Francisco and Chicago, told Progressive Grocer.

"The exhibitor side, which is our board of directors, did vote a test this year to see what would happen if we did extended hours," Roberts said. "We agreed that we would survey the membership afterwards and consider the exhibitors' needs and the retailers' needs, and then make a decision for 2005. The information will be both statistical -- how many people came between 9 and 10, and how many people stayed between 5 and 6 on all three days -- and it will also be anecdotal -- how did people feel about working the extra hours.

"There is no right answer -- it is just a series of different opinions. What we'll do is gather the information and do a report to our membership, which will outline the statistical data, and now that everyone has experienced it, we would expect that whatever they would advise us to do, we would probably follow that lead," noted Roberts, adding that a recommendation will probably be made sometime in October.

Approximately 22,000 attendees were at the show this year, with heavy traffic down each of the show's 55 aisles.

"We have a very dense show. . .and people have to take their time and go through it," explained Roberts, noting that most of the booths are mom-and-pop concerns. "[At other shows featuring] Coca-Cola, you can walk by the whole booth and know what they have. With us each little guy has a special story, and it takes a while to go through."
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