BI-LO FOOD SHOWCASE GETS LARGE CROWDS, STAR POWER

MAULDIN, S.C. -- The stars came out to lend their support at Bi-Lo's 14th annual food showcase here.Held during the last weekend of January at the Palmetto Exhibition Center in Greenville, S.C., the Bi-Lo Expo featured about 250 booths in which the chain's vendors showcased their products and recipes while distributing coupons and product samples.A wide assortment of Center Store products was sampled

MAULDIN, S.C. -- The stars came out to lend their support at Bi-Lo's 14th annual food showcase here.

Held during the last weekend of January at the Palmetto Exhibition Center in Greenville, S.C., the Bi-Lo Expo featured about 250 booths in which the chain's vendors showcased their products and recipes while distributing coupons and product samples.

A wide assortment of Center Store products was sampled at the Expo.

"Many of the booths are from food brokers who represent several different products," said Joyce Smart, public affairs manager at Bi-Lo. "They'll set up a large booth, and at their discretion they can display and sample whatever products they like.

"We're at about maximum as far as vendors go, because of the size restraints of the hall," she added.

Bi-Lo used big-name entertainers to help promote the Expo. On Friday country singer Doug Stone was on hand. Naomi Judd was present on Saturday, and talk-show host Regis Philbin showed up at one of the booths on Sunday. Smart said Philbin had also visited the Expo two years ago.

Smart said nearly 16,000 consumers visited the Expo during its three-day run. Admission was $5, with a $1 discount coupon offered in-store.

"Our attendance has been fairly stable because of the size of the hall," she noted. "We actually have to quit letting people in sometimes, so that we don't overcrowd the hall."

Bi-Lo promoted the event heavily. "We advertise it in our ads, in our stores, and we have media partners in both radio and television," Smart said. "We also use window banners in the stores."