-----Samoa Observer (By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,
All is well that ends well. Underneath a full moon at Taumeasina Resort, the participants of the Frankie’s 2018 Samoa Food and Wine Trade Expo gathered on the beach for a cocktail event to officially wrap up the successful event.
Exhausted but with a satisfied glow seemed to be the overall mood amongst the local and international businesses who got another chance to network under more relaxing circumstances.
From organisers to suppliers and end user businesses, the outcomes and connections was worth the hard work, sweat and tears that went into planning and executing the event. And judging by the conversations over cocktails, both local and overseas business owners were already asking when the next expo was going to be held,
“Probably I will hold another one, maybe in the next two years - it’s a lot of work.” Said Event organizer Mei Cai “It’s a lot to learn at this event, suppliers also give us feedback which is very useful but overall we did really well this time given the fact that this is the first time we ever do one in Samoa.”
Food and Beverage Executive of Frankies, Maria Toluono-Pelman, echoed Mrs. Cai’s sentiments saying that their 2 woman band had some challenges in the beginning but having the contribution of locals helped put it altogether in the end and even exceeded their expectations,
“It was hard.” Said Mrs. Toluono-Pelman “ This is a first for me and normally overseas this would take a whole team but it was just me and Mei - everyone just joined in during the last two weeks. With our locals they were very helpful and they were very happy to join in. On the last week, we had more coming in wanting to join but we had no more room.”
For business owner Tutasi Paul Meredith of Laupele Café, the experience was worth it and she will be looking to participate in the next expo after finding that active participation opened up avenues to learn more about other local businesses and options that suppliers can offer them
“As a café owner , it was worth it,” said Mrs. Meredith, “we got to meet a lot of suppliers and find out where the product actually comes from and learn more about their product. We got to sample it and there was more information rather than just the label. We learnt more about factories and where it’s coming from.”
“We first learnt about this event through numerous emails and I always thought to myself ‘why aren’t we doing this?’ it was good to be a part of something where we could be right in the middle of it all rather than just being on the outside looking in. we actually got to know everybody by name and by product too and I really felt like we all grew closer because of it.”
International suppliers were very pleased with the event and the outcomes. According to New Zealand based shipping supplier Tony Spelman, - it’s good business to be associated with Frankies Supermarket and Wholesale. Mr Spelman emphasized that Samoa is an important market for them and it made sense to be involved in this event.
“I think just being able to connect with a lot of frankies suppliers and understanding his business and everyone loves what they do here.” He said “ I was just listening to the radio and they were talking about him earlier today and its sounds like he has really made his business had made a difference in the community. You know, he is always beating us up for the best service and the best rate but we know where it comes to and Samoa is an important market for us so we are glad to be involved.”
As for the one half of the organizing team, Mei Cai said that everyone should be proud of the hard work they put into the event and it was not surprising that they all got a lot out of it. Asked how she was holding up after weeks of planning ending with a very busy and eventful expo, Mrs Cai said,
“I feel very relaxed” she laughs “And very tired for the last two days, I haven’t even slept so I’m looking forward to going home to sleep. However it’s good and it’s nice to see everyone back here for the cocktail evening because I just expected they had other places to go. I didn’t expect a lot of them here but I’m so happy that they all made time to come here and relax.”
“I’ve been so blessed to have these people around with their support. It’s not always about the business but the relationship is very important.”