The NECO Alliance held its biannual seasonal show last week.
The two-pronged event was staged in Secaucus, N.J., for the group's Appliance Dealers Co-op, Dynamic Marketing Inc. and Intercounty chapters, and in Sturbridge, Mass., for its Nationwide of Connecticut and The Boston Group divisions.
Some 250 dealers and 35 vendors attended the Secaucus leg of the show, which focused on such seasonal fare as room air conditioners, barbecues and fans. Appliances, both major and small, were also represented on the show floor by leading white-goods vendors. DirecTv was the lone brown-goods exhibitor.
The two-year-old NECO Alliance represents 450 dealers spanning the nation's Northeast corridor from south Delaware to Maine. The organization, which is part of the Nationwide TV & Appliances buying group, boasts some 700 storefronts and $1 billion in annual sales at retail.
According to executive director Mel Hunger, who previously led Key America before joining NECO last April, the Alliance is becoming more of a merchandising cooperative than a buying group. "We're moving into a merchandising group mentality, showing members ways to be more profitable," he said.
Hunger attributed much of NECO's market share gains to its chapters' collective 1 million square feet of warehouse space -- strategically located throughout the Northeast -- which accommodates factory-direct shipments by the truckload and container load.
"It gives us the power of the pencil to buy directly from vendors," he said. In turn, members can cherry pick products from NECO's distribution centers while reaping the benefits of bulk buys.
All of NECO's members will come together September 24 in Foxwood, Conn., for the group's fourth Expo buying show.