The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down, with small businesses being hit especially hard. This is a pivotal time for SMBs, and the way they respond to the pressure will determine how their business runs for years to come. Many companies are taking this difficult situation and turning it into an opportunity. In our Positive Pivots series, we’re diving deeper into what these innovative businesses have done, and what lies beneath the surface to produce this kind of creativity and resilience.

This week we spoke with Jason Monti, CEO and co-founder of USA CBD Expo, to learn about his company’s response to the pandemic and how partnering with digital companies is keeping them going.

What is USA CBD Expo?

USA CBD Expo is a trade show organizer. We have a series of events across the US and internationally with a main focus on CBD and hemp. Our last event was in Las Vegas in February—we were lucky to have an event right before the shut down—where we had around 300 sellers from the US and Europe with around 10,000 attendees. Our attendees are predominately consumer, end-to-end retail, but we do have quite a few store owners as well and nationwide distributors or wholesalers. Our events are three days long. We have a lot of demos, but purchases are made on site as well. We designate the first day and a half to industry and business buying, mainly distributors and large retailers, and then the final day and a half are geared towards the public.

How did you prepare or respond to changes due to COVID-19 at your company?

COVID was absolutely devastating for our business as it is for any trade show organizer. Fortunately, we had the event in February, but we did have upcoming events in May and August that we had to postpone due to the pandemic. Our fingers are crossed that come December we can have a modified in-person event, but until then we have been communicating with our vendors about the postponement and industry changes. We are so grateful for how understanding our community has been as we navigate these changes. The majority of our vendors from our May and August shows were very happy to move to later dates with us.

How did your offering pivot during this unusual time? What are you offering now?

With a full stop on in-person events we have had to re-evaluate our offerings and see how we can get better. There will be a day again when we can organize a trade show for our community but in the meantime, we partnered with Alibaba.com on an upcoming online trade show in July that brings our community together virtually. We are really excited about offering another digital avenue for our vendors to get exposure while we are taking a rest from in-person trade shows.

As a trade show organizer mainly in the cash and carry space, we don’t have the solutions for a virtual event. A partner like Alibaba.com takes care of the logistics and ecommerce hurdles that we can’t manage and still allows us to help disseminate information and excitement about the industry.

How do you think the pivot you made in response to COVID-19 will have a long-term impact on your business?

We are working through physical spacing changes, sanitation stations, masks, and other health requirements for our future shows. We are looking towards a future with in-person events and are doing everything we can to keep our vendors open while staying positive internally.

Connect with hand-picked US-based sellers showcasing their supplements and CBD products at the Alibaba.com US Supplements & Nutrition Online Trade Show with partners USA CBD Expo and UNPA.