Association planning 'roadshow' seminar series
SCOTTSDALE, AZ -- How is the National Bulk Vendors Association doing these days? Just fine, says the NBVA's top official. The feisty trade organization of bulk vendors and suppliers, which marked its 62nd annual convention and tradeshow last year, is back. Following several years of declining membership and waning industry interest, the association says it's poised for a long-term comeback.
"I'd say that the NBVA has seen a slow but definite improvement," said NBVA president Steven Schechner, Capital Vending (Florence, AL). "Our booth sales are up for this year's show, and members are sticking with the association.
"A lot of people have left the industry, but as result of that exodus, what we are left with real pros," the industry veteran pointed out. "Our members are resilient, and some are even doing better than ever."
Schechner doesn't deny that the industry has experienced a rough couple of years. Among the problems facing bulk operators was a reduction in the number of locations. The economic downturn was responsible for closing a good many of the mom-and-pop retail locations that are the bread and butter of small operators.
According to Schechner, what has kept the industry going is the continued move by operators to expand their equipment categories to include such things as crane merchandisers, as well as the ongoing trend toward higher-priced vends. More operators, he explained, are adopting $1 vends at the top of the rack, with 50¢ vends down below. There is also the continued strength of high-profile licensed merchandise, particularly in the relatively new category of online games or apps. This is a healthy sign that shows the industry suppliers are keeping up with the latest trends, the Alabama operator explained.
The association, Schechner pointed out, is very aware of current trends and how they impact operators. For the NBVA, it is all part of a strategy to make the association more responsive to its members. "We've had a lot of success with our redesigned newsletter," he said. "I think it's much better than what we've done in the past. There's a lot of really good information in there."
SHOW ON THE ROAD
Schechner reported that the association is now in the early planning stages of launching a second trade event to complement its primary convention and trade show collocated with Amusement Expo, held annually in March. The "post-show event," as he described it, would be more of a bulk vending symposium than a product exhibition. The prospective conference has been labeled the "NBVA Roadshow," although that could change.
"There is not going to be a lineup of suppliers with booths," he explained. "It's going to be more of an educational format. The seminars and talks are all going to be directed at operations of all sizes. We found that's what our members want, and they can't get it online."
The Roadshow, along with other organizational enhancements, are designed to add value to the NBVA. If these efforts represent a bet on the future of the industry and the association, it is a bet that Schechner and other members seem more than willing to make.
"I see strength in our future," he said. "We're going to continue to improve."