MONTPELIER -- In September, a new organization -- the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association (VRGA) -- will be presenting the Vermont Retail and Grocers 2014 Convention & Expo, the state's most comprehensive trade show. Created in March by the merger of two of Vermont's major trade organizations, the Vermont Grocers Association and the Vermont Retail Association, VRGA has more than 1,000 members -- over 800 retail stores and 250 suppliers to the retail and grocery industry, including the Vermont Specialty Foods Association. Thus the theme for VRGA's first Expo is "New, Bigger, and Better."

According to VRGA President Jim Harrison, "For several reasons, I think that attending the convention this year is an absolute must for every retail business and food industry member in Vermont. For one thing, the new association is not just bigger, but better in every way that produces effective member representation. Chief among these is a greater ability to impact legislative issues. In addition, the coming year and legislative session will bring major challenges. The proposed sweetened beverage tax is just one early example. Members who attend this year's Expo will be able to learn firsthand about the new organization and its expanded offerings. They'll also have an excellent opportunity to voice concerns about the upcoming legislative session, health insurance, and other key issues facing Vermont businesses in 2014."

Held this year on Sept.


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9-10 at the Champlain Valley Exposition, the convention and expo -- called the "Big Show" by attendees -- is widely recognized as a key marketing tool for today's economy. The event includes exhibits, educational seminars, contests, entertainment and more, all with the goal of improving any business's productivity and bottom line.

With just over six weeks to go, the Expo is already 88 percent sold. The remaining booths always go quickly, so interested retail and food industry members should download the Exhibitor Brochure and Registration Form from vtrga.org to reserve a booth today.

TUESDAY EVENTS

  • The Expo opens with something important to all food purveyors: the ServSafe┬« Food Safety Certification class, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • The perennially popular VRGA-Farrell Golf Outing tees off at 9 a.m. at the Champlain Country Club.
  • Both the Scholarship Silent Auction and Welcome Reception & Tasting Event wind things up from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

WEDNESDAY EVENTS

  • Wednesday is really the "Big Show's" Big Day, wrapping work and pleasure around the central Expo itself, which lasts from 10:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Nationally recognized Keynote Speaker Matt Hudson delivers his "Signs Sell" seminar at 11 a.m. Matt's clients have included New Balance, Disney, Hyatt Regency, and many more.
  • Throughout the morning a variety of workshops and seminars are offered and the afternoon is devoted to fun events like the Vermont's "Best Bagger" Competition and others.
  • The Expo culminates with the Chairman's Reception and Dinner, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Doubletree Ballroom with entertainment by Master Hypnotist, Dr. Steve Taubman.

For the full schedule of events, lodging information, and more, visit http://www.vtrga.org/.