LAS VEGAS -- With nearly unanimous opinions, the National Bulk Vendors Association's 61st annual trade show and convention was a rousing success. The show had been the subject of apprehension by some bulk industry naysayers because of its collocation with the Amusement Expo, which is sponsored by the Amusement and Music Operators Association and American Amusement Machine Association. But a strong turnout of bulk vending operators, suppliers and manufacturers soon had the industry singing its praises.
Held March 1 through 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the show drew an estimated 300 bulk vending participants, along with 21 exhibitors. Those exhibitors were part of a special bulk vending pavilion that included booths near the center of the Amusement Expo show floor. Last year's bulk show in Kissimmee, FL, drew 30 exhibiting companies with fewer than 300 registrants. The collocation format seems to have halted a slide in attendance that has plagued NBVA shows in recent years, one observer told VT.
This year's dip in exhibitor numbers is not an accurate representation of the show's performance, NBVA officials said. A number of exhibitors that would have normally displayed at the bulk show were registered as Amusement Expo exhibitors.
"I think it went great," said NBVA president Bernie Schwarzli of Beaver Machine Corp. "And in looking at the feedback from the exhibitors, they were all pleased with the amount people walking through the aisles. Many of them feel it was a smart decision that probably should have been made sooner."
According to Schwarzli, the show's success can be attributed to the fact that product and equipment offerings at the collocated event paralleled the evolving nature and needs of the bulk vending operator. Today's bulk vendors, he explained, tend to operate wider varieties of equipment than in years past, including skill cranes, prize merchandisers and even jukeboxes.
Highlights of the show included the annual NBVA banquet and awards presentations. Top honors for 2010 went to those with the most member votes. The winners were:
• Brand Vending Products, Best 1" Capsule Product for Sqwishland.
• Cardinal Distributing, Best 2" Capsule Product for Guns N Grenades.
• Vending Supply (VSi), Best Tattoo for Sugar series.
• A&A Global, Best Sticker for NFL.
• Beaver Machine Corp., Best Machine.
• Northwestern Corp., Best Supplier.
Leonard Daitch of Sweet City 25 (Walled Lake, MI) took top honors as NBVA's Operator of the Year. The NBVA's prestigious President's Award was bestowed on Jim Hinton of Oak Manufacturing. Schwarzli, who presented the award, said it recognizes Hinton's many years of service and dedication to the association as convention chairman.
Marking a first for the convention was a wedding on the show floor. Keith Roberts, Northwestern Corp.'s plant manager, tied the knot with Elise Leal during a ceremony in the Northwestern booth.
At presstime, the NBVA has not announced a formal agreement to continue collocating with Amusement Expo. However, Schwarzli and other officials involved in NBVA convention planning said the association is strongly disposed to continue the collocation arrangement. The show, they said, not only drew larger numbers of exhibitors and attendees, and met the needs of operator members, but also managed to maintain the independent spirit of the NBVA.
Next year's Amusement Expo will take place from March 14 to 16, once again at the Las Vegas Convention Center.