Explore Expo to Showcase Gay and "Gay-Friendly" Businesses

by Jamie Beckett

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday September 16, 2008

As South Florida residents know, the area is home to a thriving and active GLBT community, particularly in Miami.

That community includes clubs, shopping venues, restaurants and a variety of activities. One of the driving forces behind that busy social calendar is the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

It is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting unity, tolerance and success for all residents, with an emphasis on the LGBT community.

The chamber is also known as one of the largest non-profit organizations working to promote tourism to South Florida as well as various outreach programs. Their latest effort is the Explore Expo.

It will be held on Saturday, October 4, 2008 at the Miami International Merchandise Mart. Doors open at 8 AM, with the Expo running from 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM.

It's a chance for businesses of all types to connect with residents and get the word out about their products and services.

The businesses and services participating include health services, real estate, advocacy groups, retail, entertainment and financial services.

With consumers changing their TV viewing and reading habits, expos like this have become a popular and very effective advertising tool for business owners looking to change the way they put their name in the market place.

Another reason these types of events have been growing recently is the ability to bring the buyer, seller and product/service in one place, allowing customers to ask specific questions and get an immediate response.

Many of the exhibitions held are also trade shows, focusing on one specific area such as cars or crafts, allowing business owners to target those most likely to want to purchase merchandise in large numbers.

It also allows the buyer to come face-to-face with a product to see it in action in an environment where they will feel more comfortable.

Many business owners also use these expos to learn about new technologies in the market place, get help for various issues and business concerns, make new contacts and see what others in the industry are charging for similar products and services.

An estimated 1,000 people will be attending the free expo, which will become an annual event on Miami's social calendar, with 500 vendors on hand. Booth rentals will be made available to all business owners, both homosexual and straight for a cost of $50.00 per booth.

If you are not a member of the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, booth prices will be $300, which will give the renter a one-year membership in the organization.

Booths will be three by six feet in length and draped with white table cloths. Business owners will be allowed to rent more than one booth should they need additional space for their display.

You can make booth reservations online at http://www.gogaymiamiexplore.com.

Business owners can also reserve their booths by calling 305-573-4000 and by faxing the reservation form to 305-573-4787.

Forms are available on their website as PDF documents. While the Expo is free to attend, parking will cost visitors $5.00.

Vendors are encouraged to reserve their booth early to ensure they will get a spot at the expo, and payments will be due by October 1st.

Participants are also asked to visit the website regularly to keep up with all the latest developments, as set-up times for booths have yet to be determined.

Several seminars and workshops will take place during Explore Expo, including "How To Hire So You Don't Have to Fire," presented by Betty Roffwarg of HR Matters; "Getting Your Story Told: How to Promote Your Business," presented by Tony Lima, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Miami Science Museum and Sharon Kersten of Kersten Communications; and Exceptional Leadership Skills presented by Doug MacKay, Jack Johnson and Charles Beavan.

The Miami International Merchandise Mart is located at 711 NW 72 Avenue in Miami, Florida. It has been described as the Largest Wholesale Mart and regularly features thousands of products in more than 100 categories.

Business owners and consumers who have any additional questions about the Expo are encouraged to call the venue at the number list above or e-mail [email protected].

Exhibitors who will need wireless and/or electrical service for their booths can contact Robert Hernandez at Miami Mart at 305-260-8910 for assistance.

He is also reachable by e-mail at rhernand[email protected]. Additional booth fees may be applied to those needing these services.