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Nationwide's PrimeTime event proves to be helpful

Cliff Annicelli, Jerry Epperson -- Furniture Today, September 13, 2013

Jerry EppersonJerry Epperson - An insider’s view
What had a room full of people holding paddles, guys going into the cheerleaders' dressing room, more than 1,500 hotel rooms filled with 4,000-plus people, and a dinner served between the goal posts and a replica of the Alamo?
     Yes, it was the August Nationwide Marketing Group's PrimeTime event in Grapevine, Texas, in the Gaylord Texan hotel.
     I was fortunate enough to go, and make a speech followed by lots of questions the first day of the meeting at Nationwide's Furniture Summit. This was followed in the coming days by more than 20 seminars covering marketing, management, technology, online retailing, sales force development, managing cash flow and additional meetings for furniture, appliance, electronics and rental retailers.
     The convention center hosted more than 180 vendors selling furniture, mattresses, appliances, consumer electronics, grills, lawnmowers, accessories, vacuum cleaners, heaters, rugs and various services including credit programs, all for the retailer members who attended.
     Do you ever remember seeing our retailers excited to a frenzied pitch? I can't remember a time, but at Nationwide's "Millions in Minutes," a huge assortment of furnishings was auctioned in limited quantities at severely discounted prices. The retailers were jumping and yelling, waving their numbered paddles, hoping to get a deal. It was almost as good as sitting in the middle of the crowd at a pro wrestling match, only without Ric Flair.
     But the real stars at this event were the technology and education offered to the largely independent furniture, appliance and electronics retailers in attendance.
     As we all know, the large chains are getting larger, and the remaining independents and smaller chains need the competitive technology and buying power. In 2000, the top 100 furniture stores had 46% of all sales, but by 2012, they controlled 61%. To compete, the technology, knowledge, variety of merchandise, shared ideas and other benefits are increasingly important to these non-Top 100 stores.
     On Monday night of the event, 50 buses transported the assembly to the Dallas Cowboys Stadium for a great dinner on the football field and a back scenes tour. There was only one thing missing in the cheerleaders' locker room: cheerleaders.
     I believe many of our industry's largest retailers would find this event very helpful, and learn from the new sales programs, special events, shared sales and communications offered at this event. I know I learned a lot.
     By the way, Grapevine, Texas, is 1,427 miles from Richmond, Va. I will let you guess why I know that.

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