An event is coming to Ottawa that’s expected to draw thousands of females, includes several mentions of “baby,” but has nothing to do with Justin Bieber.
The Baby Show, happening at the Ernst & Young Centre during the weekend of Sept. 28 and 29, is expected to draw up to 10,000 visitors and include about 120 different vendors offering products and services for soon-to-be parents, or those who have recently joined the club.
Sales manager Nick Eliades, who co-founded the event with Sylvia Franklin and his wife, Sandy Pedrogao, says The Baby Show will have a special focus on health and education for mothers and soon-to-be mothers.
“We want the mum to leave the show thinking they had a great experience and great education,” says Eliades, who’s also the Toronto-based publisher of Oh Baby! Magazine.
“She’s pregnant, she can walk in and learn that there are options about her birth plan…. You don’t have to have your birth in hospital. You don’t have to have a doctor. You can have a midwife. You can have a doula.”
There will be booths selling products such as car seats and photography, information on breastfeeding, seminars by experts such as Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books and other works, as well as a stage featuring popular kiddie acts like Barney and Angelina Ballerina.
Eliades says it’s the first time an event of this type and magnitude has been held in Ottawa.
“Ottawa’s always had little (baby consumer shows),” he says. “It’s never had one on a grand scale. And it’s surprising because Ottawa is the capital city. There’s high birth rates, a lot of mums, it’s a very family-oriented city.”
He says the plan is to make The Baby Show an annual event in Ottawa, or perhaps even hold it twice a year. Eliades says that while audiences for such events are predominately female, it does offer something for dads as well.
“Dad wants to find out about all the things that Mom wants to find out about too,” he says. “We’re a different group than our parents or our grandparents, where the father went to work and the mother stayed at home. Now, both are workers and the father wants to know how to change diapers and wants to know about feeding and wants to know about the super lightweight stroller made of titanium.
“It’s a whole different ball game now.” Despite the entertainment offered for children, Eliades says there tends not to be a lot of children brought to baby shows, which is fine.
“While we have some really fun activities and entertainment planned for the little ones,” he says. “Our show is about education. We want the mum to be talking to the vendor rather than just face painting
or balloons or stroking animals. This is our goal for the show.”
Eliades adds that The Baby Show offers a new opportunity for Ottawa companies in the baby business.
“If (parents are) your primary demographic, you’re meeting your customer face-to-face,” he says. “There’s not a better way to reach or to contact them or to educate them (than) face-to-face with your product in hand.”
Belly Laughs, a Kanata baby specialty store owned by Sandra Durocher, is among the vendors that will have a presence at The Baby Show.
“It’s exciting because I feel like it’s very professionally done,” Durocher says of the event. “The exposure, as far as their advertising and how they’re presenting the show, is just very promising.”
Durocher says The Baby Show will hopefully increase the awareness of her store beyond west-end Ottawa, and inform parents of the existence of a store such as hers when they need goods for their baby.
“The instinct is to go to the larger retail stores” she says. “When you go to these stores, you may be getting the 20-year-old person selling you a car seat who’s never actually had to buckle their child into it before,” she adds, noting that most of her employees are moms. “Or maybe you go to the large box stores to get fitted for a breast pump. I’m sorry, but a 17-year-old boy knows nothing about breast pumps.”
Tickets for The Baby Show are $10 at the door for the whole weekend, or can be purchased online for $8. Admission is free for children younger than 12.
Early ticket buyers get access to a VIP room, which features complimentary manicures, refreshments and a place to leave coats for the day. For more information, visit www.thebabyshows.com.