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Nationwide Draws Record Crowds

The Nationwide Marketing Group enjoyed record attendance and sales at its summer PrimeTime! buying convention, held earlier this month at The Mirage hotel, here.

Attendance topped the 3,000 dealers who filled the Louisiana Superdome at last February’s confab in New Orleans, which was the previous record holder for the 34-year-old CE, majaps and furniture buying and marketing organization.

“We are excited that our attendance and purchases at this event were actually up dramatically from our record-setting New Orleans PrimeTime! levels,” said Nationwide’s president and director Ed Kelly. “The energy and confidence exhibited at this show are a tribute to the quality and dedication of our members and vendor-partners.”

Sales were generated by more than 120 exhibitors who filled 100,000 square feet of exhibit space with new products and services. Vendors included Bose, Echostar, Hitachi, JVC, Mitsubishi, Philips, Pioneer, Thomson, Toshiba and Viewsonic on the CE side, and Bosch, Danby, Electrolux, Fisher & Paykel, GE, Maytag, Weber and Whirlpool in white goods.

Dealers were encouraged to take advantage of what Nationwide described as its “aggressive pricing programs,” and were provided incentives in the guise of “cash back now” rebates.

Members also attended the group’s most extensive PrimeTime! University seminar program to date, along with “Hot Stuff Sessions” designed to introduce and explain new technologies and strategies. Seminars included how-to’s on reinventing stores to add more sizzle to the customer experience, and on coaching and developing a high-performance team.

The show carried the election year theme of “Vote for Nationwide,” and featured a multimedia kickoff presentation that mimicked this summer’s political conventions, replete with balloon drops and demonstrations of member support. “When we chose the theme, our intention was to nominate our members as the leading candidates for the votes of America’s consumers in a very competitive marketplace,” explained Robert Weisner, Nationwide’s executive VP/merchandising. The group, in turn, is analogous to the “members’ party of choice” for supporting dealers with promotions, advertising, financing, training, information and negotiated pricing, he said.

Other PrimeTime! highlights included a presentation by Toshiba’s VP/marketing Scott Ramirez, who provided a primer and update on projection TV. He also implored Nationwide dealers to know their customers as well as their competition, to create easy product comparisons to promote faster purchase decisions by shoppers, and to take advantage of manufacturer training in order to convey the consumer benefits of products — all elements that will help them compete with larger, price-driven competitors.

Nationwide also used the PrimeTime! forum to present an NSI Service Champion award to Paul Rosa, principal of Buffalo, N.Y.-based Rosa’s Superstores, a six-unit CE, majap and furniture chain serving western New York state. Rosa’s is a charter member of NSI, Nationwide’s in-house extended warranty program, which is insured by Assurant and fulfilled by Service Contract Solutions, a subsidiary of the Signal Holding Company. Rosa’s signed on with NSI in the 1980s after its national extended warranty provider went bust, and Rosa’s honored and funded millions of dollars worth of contracts and service claims.

Nationwide will next convene Feb. 13-16, 2005 at Disneyworld in Orlando, while next summer’s show shifts to Dallas at the Wyndham Anatole, Aug. 7-10, 2005.