International Fair; Keeping a lid on it

April 20, 2013

El Salvador Unique

If I had to sum up business philosophy as I see it here, I would have to go with

“El Salvador…….We Keep a lid on it”

I participated in the international fair this week at CIFCO. All of my fears of being overwhelmed were totally unwarranted.

This is a sad thing to say, because there are plenty of reasons to feel and act in a very optimistic way. I get am frequently frustrated at how hard it is to get people to go ahead and roll with me in this.

The fair was fun, with a military exhibit that Emme LOVED

Several interesting local vendors such as a glass blower,

Plenty of industry standards

And US!

But there was also an atmosphere of conflict and control. Some examples include,

1) The o

2) Foot traffic was directed in the most awkward of manners, forcing everyone to use only one set of stairs. This was supposedly to force people to walk by each exhibit, but it had the opposite effect.

3) That the event seemed to be underpublicized. I understnad that normally each country would have it´s own small building, inthe impressive CIFCO comples. This year, only Taiwan meritted such a luxury, and nearly everyone else fit in the one grand hall we also occupied.

4) Our little CDYMYPE group we stood out, because we put out more bold branding. This brought negative attention from Hacienda, who appraoched us, and ONLY us, to ask, “No esta contribuendo?”, in an offended looking manner, and then proceeded to grill me on my reporting. inlcuding tisk tisk that my facturas for the event will be out of sequence Numerically/chronologically with my facturas (receipts) from the bar. (A distressingly retarded problem that is too complicated to explain to my USA friends).

5) The atmposhere was one that seemed to imply that selling things was kinda innapropriate, and somehow suspect.

The direction of the foot traffic prevented people from wandering freely, and seriously reduced both walking pleasure, and sales for everyone on the top floor. Technically the traffic control was intended to force everyone to walk by each vendor to get in and out, but this not how things played out.

I got through the rather depressing event by making myself happy giving away beer to anyone who came within earshot. We spread the love of ales, and challenged peoples tastebuds to enjoy more flavorfull brews, and sold EASILY at least 8 tee shirts and 12 beers over the course of the weeklong event. Yes it was that bad.

People told me that the event in past years has been great fun, with tons of people. Most complainers blamed the FMLN, though that makes no sense to me. OK, it make a little sense because I have seen some ill effects from odd leadership at the coffee consejo, and decided that communists dont know how to party.

I got no problem with their politics…. but they do NOT know how to throw an event that generates enthusiasm. Were you at the latest Barista competition? REFUCKINGDICULOUSLY SAD. How do you make the WBC Barista competition tense, unpleasant and boring?

Put an insecure, protectionist, control freak, that hates most of the leaders in the industry in charge, thats how. That person will keep a lid on it. NOTHING of interest will happen.

We made excellent contacts and had tons of great tastings, while just about covering the cost of being there. The poor CDYMYPE group suffered from the abusive control of foot traffic, and placement in an area full of industries unrelated to retail sales (people in our area were not in buying mode yet). My group also suffered from lack of agression, and a tendency to sit behind their little tables rather than opentheir mouths and speak.

Most of hte vendors near me showed up hours after the event began, and left hours early. I found this offensive, since it made me feel like an island in a sea of abandoned tables. On the final day I gave up, and also packed up early. The depression got to me, ironicly on the busiest day yet, and it was just time to go. We were literally the only ones open in the corner. At first we set up a minibar using the now empty tables…. but that lasted just a few minutes because the organization wanted to clean up the tables and was staring at us like we were freaks.

(The kind of freak that figures there are still thirsty people walking around, and I havent made my money back yet)

So this is a terrible review of the event, but its honest. El Salvador can do better by it´s business people. You do NOT need a lid on it. You need to blow the lid off. You need the set the roof on fire. Tightly controling every process, and making people uncomfortable for being agressive is a recipe for a slow and uncomfortable failure.

At the end of this lackluster event, I (and only I) was approached by security as I loaded up our gear. She was there to advise that I could not remove any product at all without a permit. The fact that I had carted the lions share of my gear out with me each night previously was meaningless. No signs, no bottles, no shirts, no coolers could leave without a permission slip.

Most of my neighboring vendors had long since carted their stuff out. I stood there deep in cost/benefit analysis. Standing there holding a roll of duct tape (litterally) next to some tall signs I considered kidnapping the diminutive tyrant and duct-taping her to the back of the wall. It would have been easy. My hand was already closer to her gun than hers was. We opted to sit down until she left and sneak the shit out one box at a time in team rotation. The guards at the back had not got the same memo….or maybe thought we were just on some kind of buying spree.

Next year let’s do this right. I am bringing Brew Ninjas to Rappel from the roof with their beer bottle nunchuks. Security wont stop ém either.

About Nanelle

Nanelle is a 43 year old former Ballet Dancer and Police Officer. Join her on their move to El Salvador, Living life in El Salvador as an American expat woman and loving it.

View all posts by Nanelle

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One Response to “International Fair; Keeping a lid on it”

  1. Kelli Says:

    I wanna be a brew ninja!