By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Las Vegas – Vann’s may be the next dealer to join the NATM Buying Corp.
The five-store Montana chain, which was acquired in December by the Khaledi Group, said it met with the 13-member buying organization at this month’s International CES to discuss a possible affiliation.
Vann’s said that joining a buying co-op would allow it to leverage the group’s purchasing power and provide more products to consumers at better price points.
NATM president/executive director Bill Trawick told TWICE that it’s still early in the process, but that Vann’s new CEO Greg Regelbrugge is well-known by NATM and a good friend of the group. NATM is presently conducting due diligence on the re-born business, and plans to meet with its principals in the near future.
NATM recently lost one member dealer, the Boscov’s department store chain, but added two: American TV & Appliances, which re-joined the group after going solo for nine years, and Baltimore’s The Big Screen Store, whose owners are the scions of NATM founding member Jack Luskin.
The $4.5 million buyout of Vann’s saved the bankrupt CE and majap specialty dealer from liquidation. The retailer is now led by Regelbrugge, a former Panasonic and LG Electronics regional sales exec. He recently told TWICE his immediate focus is on the local Montana market and determining the fate of his predecessor George Manlove’s forays into mall-based boutiques (ON Store) and outdoor apparel (Bigskycountry. com).
New parent company Khaledi also operates a Southwestern CE chain, HK Global Free, where Regelbrugge once toiled.
Regelbrugge said Vann’s returned to CES to build vendor relationships, re-establish its reputation in the CE industry, and to find new products to offer its customers. Together with multi-category merchant Matt Barrett he met with all of Vann’s major manufacturers, including Samsung, LG Electronics, Sony, Panasonic, and AudioQuest, and reported a favorable reception.
“We’re going to get the vendor support we need to make Vann’s a destination for certain brands,” Regelbrugge said. “We’re building relationships with vendors, which also helps consumers because then they can see products at Vann’s that they wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere.”
One such product is a solar-powered charging kit from a new vendor, Goal Zero. “I believe the Goal Zero chargers will be beneficial to Montana customers,” Regelbrugge noted. “We want to offer products that have a unique value.”
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.