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LAS VEGAS -- Preparation, preparation, preparation.” That was the mantra espoused by Olympic gold medalist Mary Lou Retton to a packed house of NACS attendees at yesterday’s opening General Session.
Retton, who won the all-around gold medal in gymnastics at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, told the audience that it takes the same qualities to be a champion in business as in sports.
“You need to keep up with the latest trends, stay on the leading edge of products and technology,” she said. “The key is staying one step ahead of the competition. You only get as much out of an accomplishment as you put in.”
Retton overcame many obstacles on her way to that 1984 gold medal and the subsequent millions of Wheaties boxes. From a small town in West Virginia to the apex of her sport was a long journey that included knee surgery just weeks before the Olympic games.
“Achieving success requires a deep commitment,” she said. “You have to surpass goals and exceed expectations.
“When you see that door of opportunity staring you in the face, you’ve got to go through it. We don’t know when it’ll come back,” she advised. “The key is preparation, preparation, preparation...you’ve got to be prepared.”
Retton told retailers that they need to go beyond their “comfort zones.” “Don’t let other people put limits on you. Believe in yourself, believe in your passion. Facing the risks and meeting the challenges head on is the only way to achieve your accomplishments.”
And learn from the competition, she added. “Use one another to help motivate yourself. Competition is good, it’s healthy.”
A Positive Outlook
Scott Hartman of CHR Inc. in York, Pa., operator of Rutter’s Farm Stores, started the session by welcoming the crowd to the show, the industry’s largest event and one of the top 50 trade shows in the United States.
“It just gets better every year,” he said.
Outgoing chairman Stan Sheetz agreed. Sheetz, president and CEO of Sheetz Inc. in Altoona, Pa., noted that this year’s show was taking place at an exciting time — with the presidential election only 15 days away and some key legislative victories having just been won.
This year’s show comes on the heels of the defeat of tobacco legislation that would have granted the FDA authority over the category, the halt on the Special Occupational Tax on alcohol (which will save the industry $30 million over the next three years) and the change in overtime regulations.“It’s remarkable what we can achieve when we work together,” said Sheetz. But, he added, “we need more wins next year just like we had this year.”
This year’s show attendance is at an all-time high, and the exhibit floor sold out faster than ever, Sheetz noted. There are 320 first-time exhibitors, 150 items in the “Cool New Products Showcase” and 300 items in the new Dollar Aisle section.
Sheetz could hardly contain his enthusiasm about this year’s show and the industry as a whole. “I wouldn’t trade being a convenience store operator for anything,” he said. “NACS — the association, the whole show — is what makes it great.”