Did you see us at the Wellington Baby Expo? It was our first time going as an exhibitor and we had a lot of fun- and met a lot of people! Rather than run through a full recap of the experience from the "exhibitor" perspective, I thought I would talk about what it's like as a mother going to these kinds of events, and ways you can get the most value from them.
You see, when I was pregnant with my first baby, there is no way I would have gone to a baby expo. Talk about fear of judgment and worries about not being able to afford the essentials! That was the reality as an 18 year old with a baby in her puku.
But a few years ago, I felt okay about going along with friends. They were pregnant and we were there to support them and have some fun. We signed up to giveaways, watched breast pump demos and stroller demos too. It was fun and we bought some bibs for our babies.
I didn't realise but that turned out to be a pivotal moment for me (Nat) as it put me on the path to eventually owning a baby shop. I realised I was pretty interested in the new products out there, and already knew quite a lot (without trying to) about baby gear. I loved seeing the demonstrations in particular - playing with baby gear is something I love helping parents do through our shop.
I've now been to the Wellington Expo three times. Twice as a parent and once as an exhibitor. I think that qualifies me to write about ways you can make the most of an expo like this!
1. Watch product demonstrations and play with products
You don't often get the chance to have the stroller companies or the car seat companies demonstrate the products for you! As well as the cloth nappy companies, the baby carrier companies, and so on.
I think as a mum or dad it's really interesting seeing how different models can compare against others. And it's a good opportunity to ask questions, and see what different companies emphasise about their products.
At our shop I know that often it's the perspective we bring to it that counts most for our customers - knowing what mums and dads are after and how some products make life easier. For myself, I like events like the baby expo because I learn a lot about what exists and how it works.
2. You get to ask a lot of questions!
Last year we went to the Expo just as a family, and it was there that I first met Aimee and the team at Edwards & Co. At the time, they weren't selling their strollers in the Wellington region. Aimee walked me through her demo of the Oscar stroller and we talked a bit about Baby Box as well.
From that conversation, we built an understanding of the Edwards & Co brand and how their products could benefit our local parents. It led to us stocking their brand in our store, and knowing a lot about who their products were best suited too. Asking questions was key to this.
Most parents won't have the context of stocking a baby shop to worry about, but I think what I had at that moment that most parents do have is that concern about "is this worth the investment?" and "how does this product actually make parents' lives easier?"
3. Listen to talks on topics of interest to you
This year it was time to try going as exhibitors. The show organisers actually ask all the exhibitors if we are able to put on talks during the day. This year I decided to do a talk I would have liked to have gone to if I was a new mummy to be: how to manage the costs. Something short, practical, and full of tips and tricks. A combo of what I had learnt as a mother and now retailer of baby gear, plus Child Restraint Technician.
I was really grateful to those who showed up to listen, as I basically blasted out as many tips as I could about baby products, how to find the right product the first time, traps for the unwary, and ways to make the big purchases more manageable. For me, it was a summary of things I wish I'd known as a new mum.
There were also talks put on about Breastfeeding, about Baby Sleep and Development, about Car Seat Safety, and even Baby Swimming lessons. Loads of interesting talks, and all free, and all in one place.
4. Try Free Samples
Another one of our stockists, Renee from The Lactation Station, deserves special mention for serving up free Lactation Cookies and Tea for all the mummies and mummies to be who came to the show!
She wasn't the only one offering free samples, test drives, or vouchers. The expo was a great opportunity to taste cookies, to squirrel away samples of formula for the emergency kit, and to stock up on discount codes and brochures to help you prepare for baby.
Our stall's freebie was of course hard copies of our essentials checklist . We also ran a giveaway for an Isoki Change Mat Clutch, and gave product demonstrations for Bumbleride strollers and Close Pop-in reuseable nappies.
5. Save Money with the Show Specials
And last but not least, we have to say the specials this year were pretty mega! Although in saying this, for us, we also ran the same specials in our physical store so it wasn't exclusive to show attendees.
I definitely do think there's a bit of a celebratory mood on at the show though - or at least there was at our stall - it was really fun being able to offer some decent offers, like bundle packages and show pricing.
All in all, I now think the expo is not at all scary. I wish I had gone when I was young and scared and pregnant, and I'm glad I've been able to go as a more confident "seasoned" and "experienced" mum too. If you are going with kids they do have a creche, a trampoline, parent rooms and food as well (important). It's just a fun day. I hope to be there again next year and if I am, and if you see me, let me know if you found this blog post useful.
AND if you missed it - never fear - it's basically a mini expo every day in our store. Come in and let's play with baby gear together.