Come Together, Right Now, Over NATM

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NATM Buying Corp., the 11-member buying group comprised of some of the nation’s largest regional electronics and appliance retailers, gathered for its annual vendor conference last week in Dallas under the banner “Winning Together.”

The theme, explained executive director Jerry Satoren, underscores what he believes is one of the biggest accomplishments in his two short years on the job: fostering greater group cohesiveness, which strengthens NATM’s hand in vendor negotiations and supports the creation of group merchandising programs that all of its members can get behind.

Satoren said the unified front has restored some sway to retailers, who have largely conceded control over pricing and promotions to manufacturers, especially on the appliance side.

Scott Hymas, CEO of Utah chain RC Willey and president of NATM, concurred. “We’re running a few more programs and we’re more united than we’ve ever been before,” he told a packed ballroom of retailers and vendors, in a dinner address that lauded Satoren and operations director Michael Maund.

Hymas also used the platform to prod manufacturers to do their part in supporting a positive shopping experience for customers by delivering on promises, and promised merchandise, without passing the buck.

“To be in business tomorrow or in five years, we have to get better together,” he said.

At a press sit-down, Satoren said 2016 represents “another good year” for NATM, albeit a harder-fought one as majap industry growth has inexplicably slowed, particularly in laundry, and 4K TV is quickly becoming a mass-market product.

Nonetheless, member dealers have outperformed their white-goods peers and garnered share, while their CE businesses are fighting TV price erosion with a high-end mix of quantum dot, OLED and HDR displays in 75-inch and greater sizes, he noted.

He said dealers are also benefitting from bedding — a “very profitable category with enormous growth” — which is now carried by all 11 members and supported by group programs.

P.C. Richard & Son president/CEO Gregg Richard acknowledged that he’d “resisted bedding for years” given the plethora of mattress specialty stores in the New York metro area, but then realized his customers only shopped there because his showrooms didn’t offer it.

Bedding has since become an important part of his business, he told TWICE, and has offset declines in home office.

Another good sign for NATM is store expansion. Following last year’s Nebraska Furniture Mart debut in Dallas, members including Curacao and P.C. Richard are opening new locations (in Las Vegas and Brooklyn, N.Y., respectively), while Tennessee’s Electronic Express is remodeling six of its 16 stores and expanding a distribution center to make more room for bedding and furniture and to add small appliances to the mix, principal Abe Yazdian said.

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