Win prizes, learn about new products, maybe even meet Husker stars, including a gold medalist. It was all part of Wednesday’s Buy the Big O! Show at the CenturyLink Center featuring about 300 exhibitors.
Tracey Fricke, senior director of special events for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, said the show provides invaluable networking for local business professionals.
Many of the booths will feature product freebies or Black Wednesday discounts. They’re encouraged to offer specials on this day only to draw more attendees.
Among the local companies taking part is La Rue Coffee. It began in the founder’s basement 30 years ago and while it remains family-owned, the company has grown well beyond Omaha.
Todd Engel, business development specialist for La Rue, said they’re now in 15 states with roughly 300,000 customers. A few years ago, they began roasting their own beans in Omaha, from farms all around the world.
"We just partnered up with Marley Coffee, which is Bob Marley's kids," said Engel. That company provided a boombox to be auctioned off at Buy the Big O!
“And then we also just rolled out with our Husker coffee," Engel said. Two different flavor profiles are available at a price discounted from that of their retail store at 156th and Bob Boozer. Former Husker Calvin Jones will be on hand at their CenturyLink booth on Wednesday to help promote the product.
La Rue will also be handing out chocolate-covered coffee beans and popcorn, in addition to gift cards.
Husker and gold medalist freestyle wrestler Jordan Burroughs will be at the NP Dodge booth to shake hands and sign autographs. The real estate company will feature gift card drawings, including one worth $500 to Southwest Airlines.
Some exhibitors come from elsewhere, but do business in Omaha, like Adam Myszewski, of the Twin Cities’ Houck Transit Advertising. "We've been in business since 1919. We were the first transit advertising company in the United States."
Their work has been seen on Metro buses for the past 15 years. "Last year we had a regular booth and we really wanted to go a little more impactful and show what we can do." So they brought a real bus onto the exhibition floor, wrapped in colorful advertising.
"We travel all around the Midwest doing these shows and this is by far the best one. Most number of people, the way we're treated here."
"Many of these businesses, this is the only show that they have the opportunity to do and it's just a tremendous way for people to find out what their business is all about,” said Fricke.
"We get a lot of customers from the show and each year it just gets bigger and bigger for us," said Engel.