Authentic Seacoast of Guysborough and Steinhart Distillery of Arisaig were a couple of area businesses which took advantage of the Saltscapes Harvest Greets the Holiday Expo, which took place in Masstown, Colchester County, Nov. 10 to 12.
It was the third year for the expo, which features more of an agricultural theme with its post-harvest date, and compliments Saltscapes’ annual spring event, held at Halifax’s Exhibition Centre.
“It was a good weekend; I think we had higher than expected sales,” Authentic Seacoast sales manager Craig Bembridge, who was part of their set-up in Masstown, said.
“It was a great crowd on Saturday, obviously the busiest day, but also a decent crowd on Sunday. And, I think, if the weather had cooperated a little better on Friday, we would have had better attendance then as well.
“It was well-run, we had no issues; it was a good sales event for us.”
And an exposure event as well with Bembridge estimating 60 per cent of those they greeted at their booth being new to Authentic Seacoast products.
“It was more new customers than people who readily identified with us,” he said. “So we reached a lot of new customers; we were happy with the show.”
Saltscapes owner and founder (along with husband Jim) Linda Gourlay also talked about attendance for the event, noting the high volume on Saturday, when they opened in the afternoon after Remembrance Day ceremonies, and with most other retail business closed, was almost too much to handle.
“We were slammed a little harder than we anticipated in terms of volume (of people); but it’s all good because it shows the enthusiasm for the buy local agenda,” Gourlay said.
“The difficulty is, with an outdoor event in November, getting people to move efficiently through space. You’re, generally, running from a warm tent to a warm building. It worked well though; the exhibitors, which are, primarily, small businesses here in Nova Scotia and other Maritime provinces, were very happy.”
Gourlay noted having Friday as part of the expo was a new twist and added because, with Saturday being Remembrance Day, they wouldn’t be opened as long as usual.
“We thought we would try a Friday and see how that would go, and it did very well,” she said.
“Today [Sunday], it’s a nice, steady pace of flow so, again, the exhibitors are selling well. And that, really, is what it’s all about; buying local is a necessity for our economy and the harder we work to make everyone appreciate that, every time they take their wallet out of their pocket, I think we’ll have done our job.”
Gourlay talked about the difference between the two Saltscape expos.
“It [Masstown] is quite a bit smaller and has a more intimate feel,” she said.
“And, because it’s in a rural setting and the timing, we don’t do things related to spring and summer, vacation planning, gardening, outdoors [activities], home-improvement activity, things of that nature.
“But there is similarity too, in terms of the buy-local producers who do well at our spring show doing well here too.”
She noted representation at the expo being from across Nova Scotia.
“It’s everything from large wood-cutting boards from the Margaree Valley in Cape Breton to a South Shore tourism cooperative and beyond,” she said.
“We have a lot of producers who are young and several here who are selling out and having to go home, unexpectedly, to restock for the next day; that says a lot about the value of bringing people together in a buy-local event between the harvest and the holiday.”