Businesses trade on diverse products in tough times

September 20, 1992|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,Contributing writer

Q: Where could you find real cactus salsa, dancing shelves, and a Maxwell Smart-inspired shoe phone?

A: The Anne Arundel Trade Council Business-to-Business Expo '92.

Ninety county businesses exhibited their products and services

at the BWI Marriott Hotel Friday, said Jeanette Wessel, the council's vice president.

The Expo also featured four seminars which focused on personalized service and the quest for improving quality.

With the state and nation mired in recession, local companies coughed up $300 to $700 per booth in hopes of cultivating contacts and gaining valuable exposure with the corporate set, some 1,500 to 2,000 of whom were expected to visit the exhibition, said Wessel.

"It's just a good opportunity to showcase your business to other business people," she said.

The presence of one business, Global Auction Company, Inc., was perhaps a sign of the times. They opened in January chiefly to help other businesses liquidate resources quickly, often during a bankruptcy or to prevent one.

But don't be misled by the name of this Glen Burnie company -- their business has so far been restricted to Maryland, said Brad Fine, a vice-president. "It's a name with a future," he said.

Saucy Salamander, an Annapolis caterer, attended the Expo to boost its corporate gift basket business, said Ken Brannan.

These baskets were a cut above the usual collection of sausage, cheese, and fruit.

One $75 basket was almost an entire Italian meal, featuring pasta, espresso coffee beans, marinated snow peas, Italian olive bread, chocolate-coated biscotti, and Dr. Pete's Chili Pepper Spritzer, which Mr. Brannan said was "an effervescent salad dressing."

A $45 basket called "Some Like it Hot," featured a variety of mouth-scorching sauces and spices in addition to a blend of salsa made with real cactus. Mr. Brannan claimed to like the taste, though he cautioned, "I haven't tried any other cactus, so I can't honestly compare."

Atlantic Specialty Advertising booth intrigued visitors with a stand of glass and metal shelves that wiggled and danced.

The vertical support bars angled between each shelf, and the motor underneath made the levels wave. Passers-by could be heard questioning their sobriety.

C&P Telephone drew giggles with a phone embedded into the sole of a tennis shoe, which might be perfect for when a 1990s-version of Maxwell Smart goes jogging.

Too bad it won't work unless it's plugged into a wall jack.

The Trade Council, which has over 850 members, has sponsored the annual Expo for eight years. They also host a variety of mixers for business people.

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