Lupin 2023

Start of Total Store Expo era draws near

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The first NACDS Marketplace Conference, held so many years ago in Minneapolis, attracted a handful of the curious and the committed, the workers and the wonderers, the doubters and the dutiful, all of whom traipsed to the northern tier of the United States to discern whether anything new was about to alter their business lives and ­perspectives.

Most left unimpressed. If that initial Marketplace Conference was an improvement upon the Cosmetics Conference that it replaced, it was, at best, a marginal improvement. Many of the major retailers and suppliers stayed away. Those that did come were, in the main, unsure of what was expected of them and what, in turn, they could legitimately expect from a hastily organized affair that relied heavily on the abilities of retailers and suppliers to find each other and do business in a productive way.

The years that followed that initial Marketplace Conference became, in retrospect, years of unprecedented growth, prosperity and success for an annual event that would, in time, become the mass retailing merchandising event against which all others continue to be measured. In a short time the Marketplace Conference became a necessary stop on the calendar of events that punctuated the annual journey mass retailing took on its road to the unprecedented success that would be its destiny.

When NACDS decided to shut down the Marketplace Conference after the 2012 event, it did so for all the right reasons. The meeting had become stale, outdated, unnecessary, unproductive — and dull. Besides, something better lay ahead. And in less than three months the replacement model will debut in Las Vegas. It goes under the name Total Store Expo (TSE to those who struggle with the language).

And it promises to be one of the landmark events in the history of the chain drug store association. For several reasons.

First, Total Store Expo is a sound concept, combining as it will the front-end and pharmacy components of mass retailing that have for too long been kept separate. As well, it adds a third component, supply chain management, that completes the disciplines surrounding mass retailing.

Second, the best and the brightest in the mass retailing community have already committed themselves and their companies to this event. Put another way, those people and organizations that have not yet signed up are in real danger of being relegated to a sideline position while this landmark opening of the Total Store Expo era unfolds without them.

Third, and perhaps the most urgent reason to attend the first Total Store Expo, it is an important industry event, as important an event as NACDS has introduced since, well, since the first Marketplace Conference in Minneapolis. This industry works because the people and organizations within it treat it as an industry, their industry. In the main, they are involved. Because they are, they benefit — as does the industry they’re committed to.

Total Store Expo is, or should be, no different. No one who attends the inaugural Total Store Expo will lose by the experience. Many, by contrast, will gain. Many of those who do gain will come away with an advantage in experience, knowledge, business and the advancement of relationships that will be lost forever to those who stay home.

Anything new attracts some skepticism. Total Store Expo is no exception. The conference has raised many questions, some of which will not be answered until August. Others may never be answered. Still others will be answered negatively. So what. The mass retailing industry clearly and desperately needs a meeting of this magnitude, this scope, this vision, this ambition. And it needs to be undertaken by an organization that has seldom failed this industry in the past. It needs to be undertaken by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

So the time has come for those few holdouts, both retailers and suppliers, to stop procrastinating, stop worrying about the weather or the timing or the crimp the event will put on August plans. Everyone plans to be there. Those who are not will be conspicuous by their ­absence.

In sum, this first Total Store Expo will be big doings. Anyone who doesn’t recognize and respond to that fact accordingly will be the loser. If not today, then soon, and …


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