LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Tobacco Plus Expo, or TPE 21, is underway at the Las Vegas Convention Center -- the first trade show at the venue all year -- and over 5,000 people are expected to participate during the three-day event.
Usually, the expo happens in January but this year, due to the pandemic, it was moved to mid-May.
Trade show attendees and vendors looking for the best deals and products for companies related to the tobacco, CBD and vaping industry are in town from all over the country
“This is our first trade show of the year and I’ll tell you, after a long period of time of not being face to face with our customers, let alone our consumers, it’s really a breath of fresh air," said exhibitor Jaime Flores Estrada from Dynamis Ventures.
"It’s really nice not only to see people here but just the high energy, “ he said.
For the participants, this is also a social event. A way to reconnect with their colleagues and clients while doing business.
“It’s a natural camaraderie, it’s like we're a bunch of puppies in a basket," said longtime TPE attendee Mark Bryan. "You go a year and a half where you don't see your friends, it's very special."
“Conventions are important for us as a small business," said Jennifer Buksar, who flew in from Chicago.
"It's so hard for us to product," she explained. "We don't know who's going to be in business and who closed down. But coming here, they’re all under one roof and it gives us an opportunity to get everything back and make sure that we're stocked."
Pandemic safety measures are still around to ensure everyone’s safety like thermal imaging, hand sanitizing stations and more space between exhibitors to address social distancing.
Smoking is allowed in certain areas inside this expo.
“Inside any booth, you can smoke and then you have designated lounges where you can smoke as well, and when you’re walking around they ask you to please put your masks on and stay safe," said Omar Fernandez, an exhibitor with the AB Cigar Company.
Trade show organizers say last year the event had a total economic impact of $8 million and that number could easily be bigger this year.
“Their sales are up, you know, 50, 60, 70 percent and some of the big distributors are up 70 to 80 percent and they've seen some of their best numbers they've had in sales in years," said Ben Stimpson, the Tobacco Plus Expo 2021 managing director.
Both vendors and clients here hope that those numbers will keep increasing in their industries and they told me they’re already ready for January 2022 when the next TPE will be here in Las Vegas.