The Upside Down Christmas Tree Gift Expo gathered the attention of shoppers at the Davis Conference Center in Layton on Friday as a new way of getting vendors recognition in the community. The three-day event provided a safer way of shopping than fighting other shoppers for items.

The event, hosted by Jambaleens, lasted from Friday to Sunday, and consisted of food, entertainment and opportunities to shop. It was the first Upside Down Christmas Tree Gift Expo to take place. Beverly MacFarlane, the marketing director of the expo and a Weber State University alumna, said the tree was upside down for Thanksgiving and will be turned right-side up for Christmas.

The expo also provided an opportunity to donate to the Utah Food Bank. Shoppers either paid $2 or donated two cans of food.

“We have a few other things that we’re selling that we’re contributing to the food bank, too,” MacFarlane said.

The expo was meant to bring shoppers from a busy mall to a smaller, safer shopping area while also contributing to feed the homeless. The conference center was in a location in Layton directly between some of the shopping centers, providing plenty of visibility for the event.

MacFarlane said the expo was to help the local vendors stay close, so that they don’t have to travel a far distance to sell their products. About 35-40 vendors were present at the expo.

“The vendors love to be here close, and it’s another way to shop for Black Friday weekend,” MacFarlane said.

Social media was the main source of marketing and public relations to gain attention for the expo. It mainly relied on Facebook and news media websites, word of mouth, and fliers posted at local grocery stores to get the word out.

“We wanted to do something different,” said Susan Tolman, the public relations specialist for Jambaleens. “It’s the season to give back.”

Tolman said Jambaleens had been planning the expo for about five months. It was originally going to be a hunting and fishing expo, but was recently changed to a Christmas gift expo.

“We were hoping to get more vendors, but we’re just kind of small,” Tolman said.

Tolman said Jambaleens is going to grow because it will be doing the hunting and fishing expo around March of 2013. It is getting different ideas and plans on doing this expo again next year. Tolman said it has turned out a lot better than she thought, and it was busy for most of the day.

“It’s an opportunity to get more exposure and to just give back,” Tolman said.

One of the vendors was the International Dutch Oven Society table, where samples of recipes and recipe books were available to shoppers. IDOS, a membership group, provides information on its website to communicate with people all around the world.

Bill Johnson, the education coordinator for IDOS, said Ryan MacFarlane, the CEO of Jambaleens, asked him to be part of the expo. He said this was just one of many events the company has been to. It has advertised on radio, television and in other forms of social media.

“It’s a social thing,” Johnson said. “Everybody owns a dutch oven here in Utah, but it may still be in the box. We’ll teach them how to take care of it and share ideas and recipes.”

Jambaleens has plans for an even bigger expo next year. More information is available at Jambaleens.com and on the company’s Facebook page.

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