State Fair Samples Sell Products

State Fair Samples Sell Products

Nebraska State Fairgoers experienced a buffet of flavors from buttery toffee to spicy mustard at GROW Nebraska’s 2019 State Fair Store.

Fifty-four GROW Nebraska businesses participated that year, and many of them boosted their sales through offering free product samples.

Barb Mapes, owner of Barb’s Buttery Toffee, enjoyed watching customers enjoy samples of her buttery toffee during several days at this year’s fair.

“The more people taste it, the more likely they will buy it,” Barb said.

She makes her buttery toffee in a commercial kitchen in Crete. The almond and pecan buttery toffee flavors are always hot sellers for state fairgoers seeking a sweet treat.

For companies looking to launch a new product, the Nebraska State Fair crowd is the perfect arena to test the waters. Jenna Borer, niece of Gold Dust Kettle Corn owner Mike Lagsding, worked at this year’s fair to test out a new BBQ-flavored popcorn.

“This one has really caught people’s attention,” Jenna said of the new flavor. “It’s neat to see people’s reactions.”

Many taste testers purchased bags of the popcorn after sampling the new flavor.

James Gustafson said he has provided samples of Lincoln-based Herbal Gatherings mustard at the state fair for more than 10 years.

“To come out here in the middle of the state, it’s a great resource for us,” James said. “It helps us meet a lot of people in a short amount of time.”

A few state fair attendees stopped by to encourage friends to try the mustard after they had sampled it at previous state fairs.

“People are hesitant to pick up a new product, so when you let them try it, it changes the whole trajectory,” James said.

While giving samples, business owners can also boost sales by suggesting new ways to use their product and offering recipe ideas.

While giving samples, business owners can also boost sales by suggesting new ways to use their product and offering recipe ideas.

Cheryl Hughes, owner of HR Poppin’ Snacks in Gibbon, has been sampling her flavored popcorn at the Nebraska State Fair for more than 20 years. She and her husband, Gary, sell their popcorn in more than 135 flavors at stores around the country.

“I firmly believe in samples,” Cheryl said. “They try it, they buy it.”

This year, Cheryl sampled 14 flavors at the state fair including new flavors Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Cookie Crumble, Cheddar Pretzel (made with Dot’s pretzels) and Monster Cookie Dough.

“Most generally, sampling sells your product,” she said.

The GROW Nebraska State Fair Store was made possible by the following sponsors: Kracklin’ Kirks Fireworks, LIPS Printing Service, Wynk, Nebraska Enterprise Fund, Nebraska Arts Council, ATC Communications, Lundeen Isaacson Insurance, Hay Bale Banners LLC, Dorothy Lynch, Touch of Class and Gary’s Quick Steak.

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