Dallas - More than a thousand members of the Nationwide Television and Appliance Association gathered here at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel last week for the $8 billion buying group's bi-annual PrimeTime! meeting and vendor show, dubbed 'Footprints to Success.'
The mood of the mostly white and brown goods dealers was cautiously optimistic. Despite considerable gains by the home improvement channel, business for the independents had largely held up during and after a challenging holiday season that took Sears and many publicly held CE chains to task.
Still, the threat of terrorism and the likelihood of war with Iraq hung over the proceedings like a damp chill, as merchants weighed the consequences of both for their families, their businesses and the nation.
But a rousing PrimeTime! agenda built around inspirational pep talks and football themes helped raise spirits, beginning with opening remarks by former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach. Then taking a page from the Knute Rockne playbook, Nationwide president and director Lee Guttman delivered a rousing half-time pep talk in which he outlined market opportunities and big box weaknesses, and exhorted members against complacency and laziness.
Those same themes were hammered home in a keynote address by local fixture Jim 'Mattress Mac' McIngvale, founder and principal of Gallery Furniture, a $170 million single-site furniture store in Houston who attributes his success to a laser-like focus on the customer.
Completing the football game metaphor, and ringing any remaining complacency out of the room, was a visit by the Dallas Cheerleaders, who performed for the appreciative dealers and opened the convention floor. There, 76 vendors ranging from Apex, Bosch and Cerwin Vega to Toshiba, Whirlpool and Yamaha offered their latest wares and continued commitments to the independent channel.