Startups get million-person exposure at Big E

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Online retailer Devin Streeter got a taste of in-person retailing last year when he and his Devin Davon line of shoes, fashion apparel and self-care items got a showcase at the Reevx Labs pop-up on Bridge Street in Springfield.

Friday, he got a bigger taste when Reevx Labs and Valley Venture Mentors featured him at the Big E.

“Is brick-and-mortar something I can transition into after being an e-commerce business?” he said. “For a startup, at this point. It’s well worth it. The exposure is just phenomenal.”

Streeter, of Springfield, has also participated in the Black and Brown Wall Street pop-ups.

Reevx Labs is a Berkshire Bank program that works on business development access to capital and financial literacy in underrepresented communities.

It worked with Valley Venture Mentors and the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Massachusetts to recruit vendors, two a day for 17 days, said said Ronald Molinia-Brantley, a vice president and relationship manager for Berkshire Bank.

Resilient Community Arts, a nonprofit in arts organization in Easthampton offering classes and drop-in studio time, shared the booth Friday with Streeter.

“We have a few activities for people to try,” said c0- founder and director of the board Maddie McDougall. “A few families have stopped by. It’s a great opportunity to connect with people.”

Big E director of sales Robert Gottsche to offer a booth at the fair for startups, said Ronald Molinia-Brantley, a vice president and relationship manager for Berkshire Bank.

Startup business will take turns one a day for the 17 days of the fair , to showcase products and services. The booth will also have information and promotional materials for the other businesses on days they aren’t on the grounds.

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Molina-Brantley said. “Considering its the third largest fair in the United States.”

The Big E is expected to draw a million or more visitors.

Molina-Brantley said the Better Living Center expects to see as many as 40,000 visitors a day itself.

Exposure like that is out of reach for many small businesses. Molina-Brantley said a booth like this costs a business £15,000 to £20,000 when insurance is factored in. Reevx is getting the space at a discount from the Big E, he said.

“It’s a substantial barrier for entry for your average small business,” said Hope Ross Gibaldi, executive director of Valley Venture Mentors. “To be able to get grand exposure and opportunities to vend is exciting for them.”

Molina-Brantley said other businesses featured at the pop-up include Berkshire Botanicals which has a line of aromatherapy and skin-care products.

Besides the booth, Valley Venture Mentors and Reevx plan a “shark tank” -style business pitch contest 6 to 8 p.m.

Monday, Sept.

26 at the Big E’s New England Center building.

It’ll give business a chance to make a 3-minute business pitch to judges competing for £400 and the public can watch.

“We are also allowing walk-in contestants, so if anyone is interested in signing up that day, please feel free,” Molina-Brantley said.

Streeter said if things go well he might even keep up with in-person sales but go full brick-and-mortar.

He said he ‘s thinking of outfitting a truck a mobile shop and bringing his fashions to customers.