It's a consumer show of EPiC proportions. A bad pun (I know, I know) but I have never been to a show like this, and honestly I was blown away.
I missed EPIC last year, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I walked through the crimson arches yesterday. The atmosphere is warm and inviting. The vibe is fresh and upbeat. Smiley volunteers are everywhere on the floor to help you out if you have a question. The space is surprisingly open and comfortable to move around in despite the fact that there are over 200 exhibitors all under the same roof (I had visions of tightly packed cubicles with rigid displays - but the exhibits themselves are works of art!) And the biggest thing I noticed was that of all the exhibitors, no one was there to overwhelm you with a pushy sales pitch. These people are here at EPIC because they believe strongly in what they have created (whether it's fairly sourced and traded coffee or hand-crafted furniture from salvaged wood) and they are so happy to share their stories with you.
Here are some booths I loved and highly reccommend checking out:
Fashion Forward movers and shakers: Lilikoi (organic cotton, bamboo and soy clothing that are softer than soft with edgy graphic screenprints), Nicole Bridger Designs (sustainable materials + hip urban designs = fewer dollars in my wallet), hank&cheef (no more balling 'em up your sleeve - you'll want to wear these gorgeous hankies in full view), lots of oogie woogie goodies for the little tykes in your life at Green Bean Baby, and you HAVE to check out PoZu eco-footwear and their Edible Shoe Cream (yep, you got it...leather shoe cream that's so natural and delicious, you can use it as a lip balm, moisturizer, hair conditioner and cooking oil!)
Food, Glorious Food: I hadn't had lunch, so I glutted at the Hard Bite chips booth (they have 7 different flavours and you have to try the coconut curry ones!), organic ale and lager at Natureland Organic Brewery (the cups are small, but give 'em a smile and you might get seconds), tetra-pak'd Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, and Chardonnay from Thirsty Lizard and French Rabbit (I recommend sampling all of them - but make sure you've already filled your belly at the food exhibits!). For the healthier-minded, Capers Whole Foods Market has set up a Kitchen Theatre cooking stage featuring some of Vancouver's finest chefs. I love the Food Network, so I was excited to see some top chef action live on stage...but what I didn't realize is that the audience is invited to sample the dishes afterwards. Score!!!
Home Solutions: Being an apartment renter, I can only look longingly at the gorgeous interior designs at urban-inspired Industrial Artifacts or the other-worldly display of fairly-traded Thai teak furniture and artwork at Spirithouse. But I did get pumped up by Sapadilla's line of natural home products. Weird coincidence, but I had just discovered their products a few weeks ago at Nesters in Yaletown and tried them out. I love the Rosemary & Peppermint all-purpose cleaner - smells so good. I didn't know they had a whole line of cleaning products that smell just as good.
Vehicular Visions: Well, it looks like the Electric Car is alive and well (phew!) and auto-enthusiasts will light up at the EPIC Ride n' Drive. Electric, fuel vapor, hybrid...oh my! Cars, motorcycles and scooters go by! Hey, did you know that you can refurbish your own gas-guzzler into a completely electric vehicle? The guys at VEVA (Vancouver Electrical Vehicle Association) can show you how.
There are so many more cool things to see and learn. I couldn't see it all yesterday, and I can't wait to get back there today.