The official opening of the Made in Armenia Expo 2002 took place in the Glendale Civic Auditorium September 27 to 29. Armenian Trade and Economic Development Minister Karen Chshmaritian inaugurated the annual exhibit–organized jointly by the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce–and the Armenian Development Agency.
Over 1,600 people from the greater LA Armenian community visited the exhibit this past weekend–becoming acquainted with export-ready products from Armenia. Nick Hacopian–the Chairman of the Board of Directors–stated that this year’s Made in Armenia Expo has–"surpassed visitor and manufacturer expectations with displays of products–the shows–and participation." Last year’s Expo had forty three participants from Armenia and local California businesses. This year–however–about seventy three participants were registered and sixty booths were occupied. The booths contained a vast array of manufacturers–distributors–artists–non-political voluntary organizations–non-profit organizations–and information on whatever one needs to know to gain a better perspective of what is going on with Armenia’s business prospective.
"The main concept of the Expo is to promote Armenia’s export companies and to cure economic problems," said Hacopian. The Expo was a major publisizing event to inform the American and Armenian public about what Armenia has to offer to the world economy. Armenian American Chamber of Commerce Member–Edward Sarkissian stated–"the feedback from last year’s Expo booth vendors was mostly about the increase in retail success–and the deman’s that have started to launch some of these returning business people into a promising future."
This year’s Expo booths displayed companies and businesses that informed the public about the various goods and services Armenia has to offer: travel agencies–real estate–clothing–shoes–food–beverages–hi-tech companies–publications–art–laser engraving machine manufacturing–tile and natural rock manufacturing–rug manufacturing–and jewelry.
This year–there were many unique introductions of products to visitors–such as Tamara Ice Cream’s free sampling of juices–ice-cream–jellies–and specially frozen Armenian vegetables and fruits that can be microwaved and defrosted. The specially frozen tomatoes–peppers–eggplants–raspberries–strawberries–peaches–and apricots–do not get soggy or taste unpleasant after defrosting or microwaving. It tastes as fresh as the fruits and vegetables that one picks at the produce section at the local market; however–these frozen vegetables and fruits are imported directly from Armenia.
The designer and sculptor Tigran Sarkissian of ‘Tigrani,’ displayed his beautiful chess sets that he custom makes with silver or gold plated chess pieces; the board has onyx and obsidian framed in a wooden engraved border. He is selling one hundred collectors’ item Armenian chess sets–which have gold plated or silver plated Armenian historical Royal figures. The boards alone start at $2,500 and he also sells silver or gold plated custom hand made chess pieces in the form of Akhtamar–for example.
Visitors included many local businesses and non-profit organizations who were interested in pursuing new business opportunities with Armenia. For example–Armenian High Technology Council of America (Armentech)–a non-profit organization which helps promote–support–and develop the technology-based businesses in Armenia.
Volunteers for The Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America (AESA)–also a non-profit tax exempt organization–informed the public about a computer drive that they had organized. So far–one hundred and eighty computers have been collected for Armenia and Artsakh. The computer hard drives are cleaned up–Armenian fonts are installed–Armenian keyboards are prepared–in preparation for the computers to be sent to schools in Artsakh and Armenia through the efforts of another non-profit organization called The Children of Artsakh Fund based out of San Francisco; they work with AESA to promote education for future generations of Artsakh and Armenia. AESA is asking everyone to donate their used Pentium or higher model computers–printers–modems–network cards–and scanners. Their goal is to make a difference in the education of Armenian children.
Younger Entrepreneurs such as Artur Manukian who is twenty two years old–has started a Brandy business with the founder of Araks Firm–LTD–Samvel Manukyan. The brandy and wine is sold in oak and walnut–maple souvenir barrels that are hand crafted. Some barrels are also made of onyx or obsidian which have sold with great success in Russia and the Ukraine. Araks brandy and wine has been selling in Moscow–Lebanon–Holland–and Armenia for the past year. Soon–it will start to sell in the United States with its hand crafted barrels.
In one weekend–the Made in Armenia Expo displayed and informed the public about some of the companies that are developing–growing–and selling their products and services all over the world.