Following a preliminary meeting last month in Chicago at which progenitor Peter Edwards and would-be executive director Saul Gold outlined rules, regulations and requirements before 10 core members, the start-up buying group is planning to gather there again before the month is out.
At this second go-round, Edwards, president of ousted NATM member Video Only, said he plans to "get more formal in what we want to do."
More importantly, he hopes to also have one or two representative vendors from the worlds of white goods and brown goods on hand to quell fears and counter the "war of words" that established groups are mounting, Edwards said. "We want them there to answer questions from smaller retailers who never had direct contact with vendors in their group experience."
The chief concerns of smaller retailers are the consequences of forecasting, planning and forward-purchasing: "They want to know what will be expected of them if they can't take a forecast order," he maintained, "and they want to know what the vendor is willing to give up in exchange for a commitment."
For their part, manufacturers, while interested in ASTAR, "want to take a look at the dealer lineup, determine which brands will be most important to us, and see what kind of commitment a forward-buying group can make," Edwards said.
While no one has officially signed on as yet, Edwards said he'd like to see some check writing by the end of the month. "By then we'll have had all the questions asked and answered as much as they can be, and made sure there are no fatal flaws." An official launch would follow this summer.
Edwards said a campaign of disinformation by rival groups has set back his timetable by a couple of weeks. "There are some pretty persuasive guys out there making phone calls and knowingly untrue statements about what we can and can't accomplish, and about Saul.
"That's why we want the vendors to give their slant. After that, it's a matter of courage to make the change and see that there's a different level of productivity possible." -- Alan Wolf