Retailers Hit NACDS’ Total Store Expo

Convention goers said combining shows afforded NACDS the chance to present higher-caliber speakers.

NEW YORK — Las Vegas was a lucky spot for many of the beauty executives attending the debut of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Total Store Expo, held at the Sands Expo Convention Center earlier this week.

While there’s always a yearning for more traffic, most of the 5,400-plus attendees said the merged format, which incorporated NACDS’ former Marketplace, Pharmacy and Technology, and Supply Chains and Logistics meetings into one megashow, paid out.

“The new Total Store Expo venue was well received by my team. We particularly enjoyed the morning sessions. The keynote speakers were engaging and inspiring,” said Walgreens’ Shannon Curtin, who will assume the new title of group vice resident and general merchandise manager, beauty, on Oct. 1.

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Convention goers said combining shows afforded NACDS the chance to present higher-caliber speakers. Applause was universal for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who spoke for 30 minutes and then for another 30 minutes participated in a question-and-answer session with NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven C. Anderson.

On the show floor, golf carts zipped retailers to meetings, Twitter spread news items and attendees were able to get flu shots courtesy of CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens. Celebrities such as Martha Stewart were on hand to promote products.

The venue proved a launching ground for new items — something that hadn’t been as active at Marketplace over the past few years. “We found quite a few new beauty treasures along our journey this year as well. We look forward to sharing these new items with our customers next spring. The team is looking forward to the next TSE,” said Curtin.

Another seasoned retail buyer said she was pleasantly surprised to uncover new companies during the Meet the Market sessions, where vendors get one-on-one personal time with retailers. Among a few new items singled out by merchants were Keep It Kind’s new deodorant range for tweens called Fresh Kidz, new nail and eye items from Pacific World and updated designs from Soho beauty bags.

Both sides of the retail equation agreed there were challenges to hammer out during the four-day event, especially a slowdown in consumer spending during the yo-yo economic recovery. That trend has many chains reducing on-hand inventory, a move some fear could cause out-of-stocks. The addition of logistics personnel in the business meetings was crucial to addressing this issue, sources said.

“Retailers and suppliers are focused on getting the right levels of inventory on the right items in the right stores to ensure that a continued loss and slowdown of sales is not something the industry brings upon itself,” said Joel Carden, executive vice president of Pacific World.

Both retailers and manufacturers reached at the close of the show had a few requests for the future, including tinkering with the timing for beauty, shortening the time of the meeting and using a different venue. Next year’s show is slated for Aug. 23 to 26 in Boston.