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BrandSource’s Stampede, Or Everyone Loves A Deal

BrandSource kicked off its annual late-winter meeting at the Orlando World Center in Florida on Feb. 18 with its annual Stampede sale — a list of special deals for its retail members.

I’ve been going to BrandSource meetings since the early 1990s when the group was known as AVB, but I only witnessed my first Stampede at the group’s summer meeting last year in Las Vegas.

Here’s how it works: BrandSource asks vendors for special deals that will be announced the first evening of the show — before the floor opens — by the group’s resident raconteur Bob Donaldson. Bob reads off the deals most times with accurate pricing, unless someone like John White, who heads major appliance sales, brings in a late offering or five to “ruin” his slide presentation.

Members are given an eight-page form describing the products with blank areas. It is Bob’s role to help fill in the blanks with prices.

In the 15 or 20 minutes prior to the opening of the meeting, members come in, sit down in groups, and review the form as if it were trying to pick winners from “The Racing Form” at the Kentucky Derby.

The products include the usual  French-door refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, big-screen TVs and A/V receivers, but also bag-less vacuum cleaners, king- and queen-sized mattresses, cookware, cutlery sets, recliners, A/V furniture and something called latex down pillows.

Hey, you may laugh, but as former Apple exec Ron Johnson learned the hard way after he became JCPenney’s CEO, everyone loves a deal. And every retailer loves deals to create store traffic.

In fact, Bob Lawrence, CEO of BrandSource, said to his members, “I know how popular Stampede is because most of you are on the side of the room closest to the door,” where the displays of products are located.

Lawrence and Andy Kersey, former chairman of BrandSource and owner/general manager of Hamlin & Kersey, said at the group’s meeting in Las Vegas last August that 60 percent of all the orders made during the show began as Stampede orders.

Retailers were enticed by the deals. When the show floor opened the next day and they went to vendors’ booths, they saw more deals, and the rest was, well, a “stampede” of business.