Retail Observer

November 2021

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

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NOVEMBER 2021 RETAILOBSERVER.COM 35 AVB/BrandSource is Kicking Butt... and Plans to Keep it That Way D espite a nearly year-and-a-half hiatus from in-person events, the AVB/BrandSource buying group got back into the swing of things quickly at its recent Convention21 meeting and product expo in Nashville. Setting the tone in his keynote address, Jim Ristow, CEO of the merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, home furnishings and consumer tech dealers, welcomed back members to BrandSource's first on-site show since March 2020 and recounted their outstanding sales performance during what he described as the worst financial and health crisis in a century. Despite significant challenges including supply chain disruptions and price increases, BrandSource dealers outpaced the appliance and home furnishings industries by 15 percent – on top of the prior year's comparable 15 percent gains, he said. What's more, members who fully leveraged the digital toolbox of AVB Marketing – the group's in-house web design and advertising unit – enjoyed increases of more than 25 percent, Ristow said, while select vendors count BrandSource as their largest growth account in the country. But rather than resting on those accomplishments, and underscoring the show's "Double Down" theme, Ristow said members and AVB need to redouble their efforts to ensure an unprecedented multi-year run. To that end, AVB is taking on the unprecedent tight labor market with a comprehensive collection of customized recruitment and employment tools called HRSource, and is addressing the consumer's preference for an omnichannel shopping experience by launching the Hub, an overarching commerce platform and CRM solution that seamlessly connects dealers' online and in-store operations. Reinforcing Ristow's message was AVB Merchandising VP Chad Evans, who acknowledged members' travails during the past 17 months and lauded their record-breaking accomplishments. Despite the many privations of the pandemic, including long hours and a dearth of inventory and labor, BrandSource member appliance volume is up 50 percent over the trailing two years, he said, handily outpacing both big-box and independent competitors, while the group's year-to-date home furnishings growth is nearing 40 percent. "You have figured out a way to navigate these waters," he told attendees. "You are doing an amazing job." Images: Top — A ruptured Achilles tendon couldn't keep Jim Ristow from attending to attendees. Bottom — Fourteen businesses were honored as BrandSource Dealers of the Year. Inset — There were enticements aplenty on the Expo floor.

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