Critical Mass: NACDS Total Store Expo to Head to Boston

Based on positive feedback from beauty retailers and vendors, some holdouts might sign up for this year’s version.

NEW YORK — Following the debut of the Total Store Expo last August in Las Vegas, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores will roll out its next megameeting in Boston.

Based on positive feedback from beauty retailers and vendors, some holdouts might sign up for this year’s version.

The 2013 event heralded the first of a new expo melding the former NACDS Marketplace meeting and the Pharmacy and Technology and Supply Chain and Logistics conferences into one event. The 2014 event will be at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center from Aug. 23 to 26, roughly one week later than last year.

“The inaugural NACDS Total Store Expo really hit the mark with the value and high-caliber opportunities that the event provided for attendees,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven C. Anderson. “As we look ahead to this year’s event, you can already feel the energy building, which is reflected in the fact that exhibit space is 90 percent sold out — and it is only January.”

More than 5,000 executives attended the four-day show last August and research conducted by NACDS suggests that 92 percent plan to return for this year’s gathering.

Jim Whitman, senior vice president of member program and services for NACDS, said the organization will continue to tweak the meeting based on industry needs. “This is an industry that is evolving and we have to evolve along with it,” he said. He noted that technology in the form of social media and NACDS-TV will help attendees know the schedule.

The organization, he added, will build upon what worked at the inaugural meeting. In particular, he mentioned strengthening the information sessions, as well as the popular Meet the Retailer and Meet the Market opportunities where buyers and sellers sit down face to face.

Last year’s attendees said NACDS will face a tall order topping the address from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who received high marks for her speech.

The beauty companies that signed on for the first show last year praised the format. “NACDS Total Store Expo exceeded our expectations. Previously, NACDS Marketplace typically allowed for only brief top-line business presentations, so this year we jumped at the chance to actually expand our meetings to include demonstrations of all of our existing and new technologies,” said Barry Shields, Red Carpet Manicure managing partner. “That led to many meaningful meetings with both existing partners and many new partners.”

Retailers agreed it was productive. Walgreens’ Shannon Curtin, group vice president and general merchandise manager of Beauty, said her team found “quite a few beauty treasures.”

The Boston locale is also encouraging many New York-based beauty companies to sign on. “At this point, based on what we’ve heard, we are planning to go,” said one up-and-coming beauty company.

After experiencing some logistics issues this past Christmas, beauty retailers said they are already planning to use the meeting as a chance to ensure smoother shipments for 2014. “I didn’t sit in on meetings with our full team including logistics, but I plan to do that this year,” concluded a senior buyer.