DALLAS -- The National Bulk Vendors Association has chalked up another fruitful convention and trade show. The 67th annual bulk vending confab collocated with the 2017 Amusement Expo International took place in Dallas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center from March 14 to 16. Despite the change of venue from Las Vegas to Dallas, along with snowstorms that closed airports up and down the East Coast, the annual convention and product exhibit attracted enthusiastic showgoers from across the country and around the world.
Marking the sixth year of collocation, the NBVA meet included a full day of the associations' membership education programs, followed by two days of bustling trade show activity. Although the NBVA posted a drop in registration, attracting 95 visitors, compared with 112 in 2016, association officials reported packed seminar sessions. Likewise, while the number of exhibitors was slightly off from the previous year -- 15 compared with 16 in 2016 -- NBVA officials and exhibitors praised the "buying enthusiasm" among operators. They said that some exhibitors reported the best at-show sales in several years.
Some industry veterans pointed out that the drop in trade show attendance reflects the ongoing convergence trend between the amusement and bulk vending operator; an increasing number of bulk operators supplement their equipment mixes with skill cranes and other amusement devices.
"It was a good show," said NBVA president Steve Schechner of Capital Vending (Florence, AL). "Despite the fact we weren't in Vegas, and many operators from the East got snowed in, we had a really good, productive show."
Following the resignation of Judi Heston-Donnell as NBVA president midway through her second term late last year, Schechner, who was vice-president at the time, assumed the association's top spot. Scott Ausmus, National Entertainment Network (Broomfield, CO), moved up from NBVA treasurer to vice-president, while David Kochan, DK Vending (Norcross, GA), moved into the treasurer's position, leaving the secretary's post vacant for several months. Although 2017 is not an election year for its executives, the NBVA elected Paul Oufleet as its secretary to fill the empty office.
New board members were elected, too. They are Jennifer Jaynes, JenVend (Happy Valley, OR); Dominick Barbato, Barbato Ventures (Holbrook, NY); Dylan MacDougal, Toy XL (Gilbert, AZ); Tyler Vance, Gardner & Lose (Louisville, KY); and Craig Goodman, Brand Vending Products. Apart from Goodman, all new board members are under the age of 25. The new board, as more than one association official noted, is the youngest in recent memory.
During its annual meeting, NBVA presented its traditional "best of" awards, which recognize excellence in product and equipment. Voted on by association members, this year's winners were:
Best 1" Capsule » Brand Vending Products for Sqwishland Polar
Best 2" Capsule » A&A Global Industries for Batman String Dolls
Best Candy/Gum » Concord Confections for assorted gumballs (850 ct.)
Best Tattoo » SSM Vending for Game Over Tattoo
Best Licensed Tattoo » A&A Global for DC Comics Logo Tattoos
Best Sticker » Flatline Corp. for Pet Shop Memes
Best Licensed Sticker » A&A Global for NFL Team Logos
Best Machine » Brand for Sqwishland
Best Crane Mix » A&A Global for ICEE Popping Candy Mix
Best Redemption Toy » Flatline for Blox Vehicles
Best Plush Toy » A&A Global for Punk Alien
A highpoint for convention-goers is the Most Innovative Operator competition, which awards a cash prize to the creator of the best mechanical idea, as voted by NBVA members in the audience. New association board member Tyler Vance, an operator from Kentucky, won this year's competition with a concept that reduces coin jams. His simple retrofit for coin mechs stops coins from piling up after multiple vends.
Amusement Expo International in 2018 returns to the Entertainment Capital of the World at its customary venue in the Westgate hotel and adjacent Las Vegas Convention Center. It will be held from Feb. 29 through Mar. 1. NBVA said it will collocate again with the larger trade show.
NBVA, founded in 1950, maintains an office at 1202 E. Maryland Ave., Ste. 1K, Phoenix, AZ 85014. Information on NBVA programs and events can be had by calling (888) NBVA-USA [828-2872] or by visiting nbva.org.
PHOTOS: Steve Schechner, president of the National Bulk Vendors Association, welcomes Amusement Expo showgoers to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas. At right, Tyler Vance of Gardner & Lose Co. (Louisville, KY) won this year's Most Innovative Operator competition for his retrofit concept that reduces jams in coin mechanisms.
SPOTLIGHT: Brand Vending Products' Craig Goodman (l.) and Scott Jochim draw attention to Sqwishland's Pet Shop series. Sqwishland remains a top-selling property in bulk vending.