An Interview with Trade Show Winner Sam Vermeulen of Hazel’s Ice Cream

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Congratulations to Hazel’s Ice Cream on not one but two wins at the 2024 From The Ground Up Trade Show! Read below for a short interview with Sam Vermeulen, owner and operator of Hazel’s, as he reflects on their wins and successes, and provides valuable insight for food and beverage businesses and future exhibitors. 

Tell us what it feels like to win top product of the year AND best booth.

SV: It’s a crazy feeling to have won any awards this year, let alone two! We always try to present ourselves excitedly and authentically and having the validation of our hard work is really rewarding. I want to say thank you to everyone who voted for us. There were so many amazing businesses there so it’s a humbling experience to have come away with the awards.”

This is your second year exhibiting at From The Ground Up Trade Show, and you won the Silver award last year. Was there anything that improved your trade show experience this year versus last year (besides two wins instead of one!)?

SV: Honestly, we showed up in a very similar way in terms of our actual booth and set-up. FTGU 2023 was our first ever trade show so I think returning this year comes with another year of experience which helped us present differently.”

Do you have any tips for future trade show exhibitors about getting your product trade show-ready? 

SV:It’s hard to give advice because each product presents very differently but I think energy is a huge asset at a trade show. Adrien and I are owners and operators and I think having those types of people at the booth is so important. No one pitches your products like yourselves. Also, all products have barriers for entry for a store to take them on. For us, it’s space and freezer logistics, as well as being a single-serve product. We have answers prepared for all common concerns and will typically put a name to them and answer them at the same time. This can help potential leads know that you have thought things out and are coming in prepared to succeed in their store or facility.”

Aside from the awards, we would love to hear about any connections or sales successes that were exciting for you.

SV: We had so many great conversations with other vendors and businesses; it’s one of my favourite parts of the show. We get to exchange many treats for other things and I become a customer of so many of the other exhibitors. We also made some great connections with Vancouver Coastal Health and other retailers, so fingers crossed they work out!”

Everyone loves the sweet nostalgia of the Hazel’s Ice Cream cart booth—how important is it to have a booth that stands out and do you have any best booth tips for future exhibitors?

SV: “A booth that’s inviting makes a huge difference for the amount of time someone wants to spend there. We set our booth back and have lots of floor space so we can invite people in. We started as a mobile cart so people are getting a real experience of visiting our little “storefront.” We also have a cabinet there where we offer samples. When someone wants to come in, Adrien always says, “help yourself and pretend like you’re at the grocery store.” I really loved that because it’s a tangible and authentic way of selling our ice cream and keeps things fun.”

Let us know where we can find Hazel’s Ice Cream!

SV: “You can find our products at our carts in Victoria and our storefront/factory. We are also in many stores across B.C. such as Thrifty Foods, Safeway, Fresh St. Market, IGA, Stong’s Market, Fairway Market. We are also very excited that you will soon be able to buy our products from the four Urban Fare locations in Downtown Vancouver!”

 

Hazel's Ice Cream

 

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