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Awards night salutes adventure of retailing

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Among the assignments the editorial staff at Racher Press, publisher of MMR and Chain Drug Review, carries out with alacrity and a degree of professionalism is that of bringing buyers and sellers together, of greasing the table where buyers and sellers can meet and move their businesses forward.

So it was on a chilly Tuesday in late March that some 250 retailers and suppliers gathered at Carnegie Hall in New York City, under the auspices of MMR and Chain Drug Review, to socialize and salute themselves and each other for the awards the two publications had bestowed through their pages just weeks earlier.

Broadly speaking, two groups of retailers were recognized: those that had been previously designated retailers or merchants or pharmacists of the preceding year, and those individuals whose performance over the recently ended year had earned them the accolade of making a difference.

Many luminaries on both sides of the desk were present: key staffers (including president Steve Anderson and executive vice president Jim Whitman) of NACDS; senior executives (including president John Standley) at Walgreens and CVS (including COO Jon Roberts); senior staffers from Walmart, Costco, Kroger (including Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health). Many others attended as well, notably Jocelyn Konrad, most recently a senior staffer at Rite Aid.

Suppliers were well represented as well, with senior executives from the major health and beauty suppliers mixing easily with representatives of small startups and mid-sized companies. Finally, Bob Kwait, a former retailer and special guest, and his son Todd added some zest to the proceedings, the senior Kwait going so far as to extoll that values and virtues of NACDS that had combined to both propel his retailing career and make the journey more rewarding and enjoyable than it would otherwise have been.

Takeaways? Several emerged as the evening progressed. Most significant was the joy and pleasure the attendees shared in simply enjoying each others’ company once more. Being together, sharing memories and stories (many old, some new, some embellished) while inventing new ones was what the evening was all about. Then, too, there was the anticipation of the upcoming NACDS Annual Meeting, scheduled for Palm Beach later this month. Even as the evening progressed the Annual Meeting gathered momentum and anticipation, until it had become, even in imagination, the biggest and most successful one yet.

In the final analysis, the evening’s major payoff was simply the joy of people again meeting other people, people with whom they had lifetime of shared experience. In the end, this is what retailing is all about, the adventure and enjoyment of accomplishment of a shared adventure, with the payoff being the adventure itself — and the result of that adventure merely a by-product.

Two points should be made in ending. First, if you’re planning to miss this year’s Annual Meeting, change your plans. It promises to be among the most significant events mass retailing has assembled in some considerable time.

Second, the attendees, should they be allowed a forum, owe the editorial staffs of MMR and Chain Drug Review a great deal of thanks. They wouldn’t have made the journey to Carnegie Hall without you (practice, practice, practice aside).


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