Potential ASTAR Members Meet, May Form Group

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The creation of ASTAR may be coming closer to reality. At press time, about 15 independent retailers, most affiliated with existing buying organizations, convened for the first time to decide if the start-up has wings.

ASTAR (Association of Selected Television and Appliance Retailers) is the buying group concept developed by ex-NATM members to address the needs of midsize dealers -- and former NATM executive director Saul Gold, who would assume the same role for the new group, was optimistic about its prospects.

"Hopefully we'll have a good story to tell," he told TWICE, en route to the one-day gathering in Chicago. Gold, who was also in the city earlier this month talking with potential ASTAR members at the Kitchen/ Bath Industry Show, said that while a roster of 20 dealers would be ideal, 12 to 15 members would provide sufficient critical mass to form an effective buying group.

"It's not the total volume as much as the volume being done in each market that's important," he noted.

Gold added that the retailer-only meeting would probably be an open forum, and that a number of interested dealers were unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts.

ASTAR's roots lay in the January dismissal of four of NATM's newest -- and smallest -- members. Of the four, Seattle-based Video Only and Charlotte, N.C.-based Queen City TV & Appliance have led the drive to create an eighth buying consortium.

Soured on the group experience, Handy TV & Appliance in Birmingham, Ala. was not expected to join the start-up. The fourth former NATM member, Vann's Inc. in Missoula, Mont., announced last month that it had joined The Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group), the high-end A/V dealers association, as its 16th member.

Following the meeting, Queen City VP Chip Player deferred comments on ASTAR's status to Gold and Video Only president Peter Edwards, both of whom were in transit at press time. "Saul would have to make those announcements as the events evolve," Player said.

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