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    NACS Show Blows into Windy City

    Workshops focus on top-of-mind issues, while former Southwest Airlines CEO Jim Parker offers a look inside his tenure.

    By Mehgan Belanger

    CHICAGO – There’s a lot of buzz going on here, and it’s not solely about the Chicago Cubs’ loss of playoff glory and White Sox’ ongoing chance at victory. The NACS Show 2008 is underway, bringing together more than 20,000 convenience store industry professionals to learn, discuss and network from Oct. 4 to 7, 2008, at McCormick Place Convention Center.

    Here's a recap of the events covered by the Convenience Store News staff so far:

    On Saturday, the "Behind the Beverage Evolution" session featured packaged beverage category management best practices and strategies. There, Kent Couch, owner of Couch Investments LLC and Diane Wallace, vice president, shopper marketing from The Coca-Cola Co. discussed ways operators can maximize beverage sales and see total store sales rise. To view CSNews’ coverage of the event, click the link below:

    Grow Total Store Sales by Maximizing Packaged Beverages

    Officially kicking off the NACS Show 2008 Sunday was the General Session featuring former Southwest Airlines CEO Jim Parker, who spoke about the importance of a strong company culture. Also addressing the audience was NACS Chairman Richard Oneslager, who rallied the group to shout the classic line from the 1976 movie, "Network"—"I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore." NACS President Hank Armour detailed the association’s progress in fighting credit card interchange fees. To read about each leader’s presentation, click the link below:


    Retailers’ Battle Cry: "I’m Mad as Hell and I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore!"


    Educational sessions continued on Sunday, featuring a variety of issues central to convenience stores’ success. At "How to Win Customers and Keep Them," Phyllis Wsol, national director of corporate affairs for Oak Brook, Ill.-based Power Mart, detailed the marketing and promotional strategies the company’s first franchise uses to make and retain loyal customers, including partnering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to raise funds each Tuesday. To see other methods the location employs to create long-term customers, click the link below:


    Powering Up Sales


    Another session, called "What Happens When Your No. 1 Category Disappears?" issued a warning to U.S. convenience retailers to wake up to tobacco legislation. Canadian c-store officials, including the president of the Canadian Convenience Store Association, detailed ways retailers can prevent being forced to "go dark" in the tobacco category, as is the case in a number of Canadian provinces, where no tobacco product or promotional materials can be displayed at retail locations. To read their warning to U.S. retailers, click the link below:


    Fighting the Future


    Optimizing snack sales through multi-vendor endcaps was the topic of "How to Outpace the Industry in Snacks Sales & Profit Growth," where Kit Dietz, owner of Dietz Consulting LLC, recommended retailers "properly balance the role of direct-store delivery (DSD) and warehouse-delivered (WD) snacks according to consumer preferences to maximize sales and gross margin opportunities." To read his suggestions, along with those from Michael Griffith, vice president of Golden Pantry Food Stores, click the link below:


    Spiking Up Snack Sales


    While foodservice has emerged as a key category in convenience stores, knowing how to promote it is just as important. This was the focus of "Selling Foodservice?" where Joe Chiovera, senior director of fresh foods for 7-Eleven, and Jennifer Jensen Vespole, senior category management of foodservice for Quik Check, discussed strategies to market foodservice and make it a destination. To view the tactics from this session, click the link below:


    Promoting Foodservice Programs

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