Tickets for the expo cost $6 for adults, and children under 12 are free. The Peaces charged exhibitors $400 for a 10-by-10 booth and $300 if they bought space early. Any money they make from the expo goes toward paying for the next year’s event. This year, they made $23,500.
Between 2002 and 2007, Birmingham’s black-owned businesses increased 113.3%, from 6,964 to 14,855. One of those business owners, Cedric Threatt, a Birmingham-based children’s book author and owner of Ahava Publishing L.L.C., has had a booth at every Magic City Black Expo and says his annual book sales have increased steadily with each event.
“I would say anywhere between 15% to 20%. It was just good to have another avenue because I got to meet people who otherwise would have never heard of me,” says Threatt, adding that he met educators who invited him to schools to do presentations for students.
Participating in the expo also proved fruitful for Birmingham spa owner Tiaesha Chestang, who was able to track the 15% sales increase she had in 2010 from a discount flier she handed out at her exhibit booth.
“I even get people who come up to me in the grocery store who say, ‘I remember you from the black expo.’ [The expo] was really a truly amazing experience,” says Chestang, owner of Purify Wellness & Spa. “The outpour from the black community was amazing. I had no clue that this could happen.”
HOW THEY DID IT
• Do your research. Darrius says they Googled “How do you present an expo” and downloaded e-books that outlined tips such as securing a venue, gaining support from local government, and attracting exhibitors and sponsors. Next, they attended several black expos around the country, taking copious notes, connecting with people behind the scenes, and asking event organizers for advice on how to get started.
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