Three members of the MARTA Cooperative of America — Schewels Furniture, Olinde's and Grand Appliance and TV — have switched buying group allegiances by joining the Nationwide Marketing Group.
Together the dealers have 67 storefronts and account for more than $150 million in annual sales.
The move follows several tumultuous weeks at MARTA in which the group's board of directors forged a strategic alliance with Brand Source (formerly AVB) and brought in former Ultimate Electronics CEO Dave Workman to replace longtime executive director Warren Mann. Workman later left after two weeks on the job to head up PRO Group.
The dealer departures come less than two weeks before MARTA's scheduled member meeting and convention in Orlando, Fla., which will be followed by Nationwide's own PrimeTime! buying event in Las Vegas at month's end.
“We look forward to working with these major retailers that have built strong reputations in their markets for many years,” said Robert Weisner, executive VP of Nationwide, a $10 billion buying and services organization for independent appliance, electronics and furniture retailers. “They are respected, growing dealers, and we believe that Nationwide can help them grow even stronger.”
Commenting on the loss of the three MARTA members to Nationwide, Brand Source executive director Bob Lawrence told TWICE, “It's not unusual for members to change groups at this time of year. In fact, two Nationwide members have joined Brand Source in the past 45 days.”
Grand Appliance & TV, headquartered in Libertyville, Ill., has eight stores in northwest Illinois and Wisconsin. Founded in 1930, it leaves MARTA after eight years.
Olinde's, in business for 120 years, is a seven-store chain in Louisiana. It was a MARTA member for 12 years.
Schewels Furniture, headquartered in Lynchburg, Va., has 52 stores in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The 109-year-old business was a MARTA member for 20 years.