13268 Thu, 12/13/2007 - 5:58pm
By Nancy Meyer
GLENDALE, Ariz.-- The new annual convention format for the Lighting One buying cooperative won praise from members and suppliers.
Held for the first time apart from the Dallas Lighting Market in January, Lighting One's convention took place from Nov. 1 to 4 at the new Renaissance Glendale Hotel here.
A total of 200 participated, including 80 retailers out of the group's 118 showroom members.
A new speed-dating-style interactive exhibit hall was a big hit among retailers and vendors. It took the place of the four-hour general sessions at previous conventions, and gave each vendor a chance to pitch every retailer.
Vendors, particularly those who are not part of the Select private-label program, appreciated the exposure.
"It was terrific," said one supplier, who was at first skeptical about having the convention separate from the Dallas Market. "I spoke with people I never would have had a chance to and a lot of them ended up writing business. I wrote more orders than I ever have at a Lighting One convention," the vendor said.
The timing of the event turned out to be fortuitous, as well, as vendors previewed products that won't officially be introduced until January, and offered exclusive deals and dating programs available only at the convention.
The Select private-label program now numbers 41 families of roughly 800 SKUs. A new 64-page "magalog" of Select product will be published, in addition to the Lighting One catalog.
"They were smart--they gobbled up all the dollars before Dallas," said another supplier.
"The results were absolutely beyond what we expected," said Mike Cherico, president of Lighting One. 'This was a "wow" convention.'
Cherico said the membership is stronger now and growing because the economy and housing market are so weak. Membership is up by nearly 20 locations this year, he said.
"We've grown quicker because [showrooms] are more humble. They want help and are open to trying new things," Cherico said.
Additionally, members are buying more of the private-label goods, which further strengthens the group, he said.
"This is an opportunity to set a stage for when the economy turns around. When you come out of it, you come out ahead," Cherico said.
Lighting One's retailer of the year award was presented to Philip Finkelstein of Illuminations of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and Quoizel won the supplier of the year award.
Entertainment consisted of a welcome reception at the Arizona Cardinals' new stadium, awards banquet and a golf outing.
The next convention will be staged Nov. 6 to 9, 2008, in Orlando, Fla.