Hundreds of manufacturers and distributors of household goods and food items competed with each other to capture a share in the retail market dominated by Indian-American businesses. The vendors and retailers showcased their products and services at a Sept. 12 trade show organized by Asian America Retailers Association, (AARA) at Raritan Center Exhibition Hall here.
Richard McKenney, regional business manager of Unilever’s ice cream division, who was showcasing brands like Beyers, Good Humor, Ben&Jerry’s said, “We want to increase our sales in the retail sector. In order to do so, it is necessary to maintain a presence among the retailers who cater to the Indian American community.”
Displaying exotic bottles of spirits and liquors, Vance Burgess watched his sales girls offering glasses of Hendrick’s brand of gin to visitors. “We are unique as our gin is made of cucumber and rose flowers”, he told News India Times. Bipin Patel, chairman of AARA feels the group has been successful in bringing retailers and vendors face to face at one platform. Some of the reasons for this success, Patel said is that the group provides a variety services for their members who are not able to keep track of changes in market trends. “We advise them on taxation and other business related issues as well as assist them with advice about techniques that help them about when and where to buy the right product for their stores”, he said.
AARA represents 1,300 retailers who own convenience stores, gas stations, and liquor stores in New Jersey. The organization is based in New Jersey but has expanded in neighboring states of Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania.
“Our vision has been to empower store employees to become employers”, H.R. Shah, former chairman of AARA, who is one of the founders of the organization, told News India Times. “Two decades ago there were very few Indian-Americans who owned stores, but in within years more than 300 employees became store owners in the state,” he said.