Weisner: Nationwide PrimeTime!’s Mission is Beyond the ‘Buy’

L. to r.: SVP, Appliance Merchandising Rick Weinberg; SVP, Appliance Marketing Jeff Knock; EVP Dave Bilas; CEO Robert Weisner; COO Les Kirk; VP, Electronics Merchandising Doug Schatz; and VP, Furniture Bill Bazemore

Nationwide Marketing Group CEO Robert Weisner said that the organization’s PrimeTime! Show, held this week in Orlando at the cavernous Gaylord Palms Resort, drew 3,400 total dealer and vendor attendees – a record for the semi-annual East Coast exhibition and the first time each of the divisions had exceeded their attendance goals.

He stated that the convention’s mission had grown well past its function as a venue for product purchases. “The show is not necessarily only for the buy, but also for exposing our members’ companies to broader categories. Today, with market conflicts and market aggregation, the more you have in your stores, the better.”

Besides encouraging dealers to cross out of their product comfort zones and into potentially lucrative areas like bedding, which Weisner called “the Holy Grail” of categories with its 50-point margins, Weisner and other Nationwide executives used the occasion of the convention to outline sweeping training and educational initiatives designed to help dealers do more business in their core categories as well as smooth their transitional paths to new and untried areas.

And while the group added 300 new members within the last year, one item on its to-do agenda this year is to help legacy members among its predominantly single-store appliance operations stay in business for succeeding generations. Weisner pointed out that many businesses in the appliance sector have not developed a ‘next in line’ strategy. “We’re trying to keep more independents in the game. Nationwide needs to perpetuate retailers for the future.”

Weisner said the group is targeting furniture retailers in particular to bring into the organizational fold, with a goal of adding another 1,000 businesses as members from that retail niche within the next 24 months. “There are not a lot of independent electronics stores or appliance stores that are not already a part of a group, but there are thousands of furniture dealers not already part of a group,” he said. “We believe it’s a great growth area for us – and a lot want to get into CE or the appliance business. The most stable dealers in the marketplace are furniture/electronics/appliance dealers.” By the same token, Nationwide is encouraging CE dealers to add furniture and bedding to compensate for onion-skin-thin electronics margins. He noted that one dealer who added bedding now finds that it “carries the load of all his store costs.”

Editor in chief of Dealerscope
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