Retail Observer

October 2015

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM OCTOBER 2015 36 B randSource hosted a variety of special networking events for members. The BrandSource Young Professionals Group, created last year to meet the unique needs of members in their 20s and 30s, hosted a luncheon featuring guest speaker Kerry Lebensburger, president of sales for Ashley Furniture. Lebensburger conducted an interactive session designed to boost problem-solving skills and facilitated a group discussion about best sales practices. The Young Professionals Group re-assembled the next evening for an action-packed photo scavenger hunt focused on the unique sights of the Las Vegas Strip. Hosted by BrandSource and Electrolux, participants broke into groups and embarked on an extensive but fast- paced photo hunt, with each team presenting their findings to the group at the end of the evening. The winning team was awarded with casino chips totaling $500. An after-party included a DJ, open bar, and late night snacks. "It was a complete success," said Lee Zeglin of Zeglin's Home TV and Appliance. "We had a great team and the strangers we met on the Strip were totally supportive of our scavenger hunt activities. It was one the best and most fun YP events I've ever attended." BrandSource also hosted a Women In Business breakfast. This annual event is designed to offer a mutually beneficial forum for women to socialize, brainstorm new ideas, discuss everyday business issues and discover new opportunities for growth. The guest speaker was Nancy Friedman, founder and president of Telephone Doctor, an international customer service training company in St. Louis, MO. Friedman has been recognized by the national media as an expert on customer service, communications, sales training and management and has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and CNN, among others. The Women In Business group also sponsored its first-ever Women's Lounge during the convention. The Lounge offered a peaceful and serene environment to relax, catch up on work-related issues or have a refreshing beverage. Another event highlight was the Karaoke/Lip Sync competition, which featured a variety of members and staffers performing while backed up by a professional band. "I was stunned and had no idea that we had such great talent in our group," said Ristow. "It was incredible event and a wonderful time was had by all who attended." A spouse-oriented mixology class proved to be a very popular social event, with 50 slots open and 150 people signing up, according to Ristow. "We'll have to add a lot more slots next year," he joked. On the show floor and in several of the conference rooms, home furnishings was showcased as a hot growth category, with Ristow pledging to aggressively market the mattress business with new promotions and programs. Industry veteran Ray Allegrezza has been tapped to assist VP Mike Allen as a consultant in order to continue growing the category. A Mattress University workshop was led by Mike Allen, VP of home furnishings for BrandSource, and Bob Muenkel, director of sales education at Serta. Muenkel offered a variety of sales training tips designed to help members empower their customers to make the best possible mattress purchase – without undesired or pressured sales tactics. Additional discussions focused on current trends and the fast-moving landscape of marketing and advertising, both traditional and digital. Mike Frank, seasoned entrepreneur and professional speaker, offered helpful information and insights to help members better understand millennials (people born in the 1980s and 1990s, or Generation Y). Offering real-world illustrations and examples, Frank explained how today's younger customer or employee differs from older generations. He offered a variety of strategies for sales and customer service in order to help members better connect with this important group of shoppers. Sue Hartman, technician expert from Guardsman Furniture Repair, performed live demonstrations focused on leather and wood repair and fabric spot cleaning. She also offered information regarding basic and advanced furniture technician training. With 34 years of experience in finishing, refinishing and repairing furniture, Hartman is a top expert at Guardsman, a leader in furniture care since 1915. As a highly respected industry expert with more than 40 years of experience, Joe Higgins addressed the audience by discussing the strength and resilience of the U.S. economy and offered his insights regarding prospects for growth in the decade ahead. Higgins talked about breakthrough technologies and how they're creating significant changes in America and changing the landscape for jobs. Todd E. Scott, digital retail integration and merchandising manager for Electrolux and Laura Woodford, senior trade marketing manager for Electrolux, offered an up-to-the-minute overview of today's digital retail landscape. With well over 60% of consumers using Internet tools to research appliances before a purchase, this session provided an overview of the variety of digital paths that can lead consumers into member stores. At the close of the convention, Ristow reflected on BrandSource moving forward. "We're definitely a culture, and that culture revolves around two things," he said. "On the dealer side, keeping them as profitable as possible, and on the vendor side, growing their business. We're surrounding ourselves with the best people in the business to make this happen. And we aren't afraid to reinvent ourselves and explore new opportunities and possibilities in order to help our members succeed." A NEW ERA — BRANDSOURCE ANNUAL CONVENTION & EXPO, LAS VEGAS RO

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