NSRA Conference to Tackle Retail Issues

The National Shoe Retailers Association conference, set to take place April 29 to May 1 in St. Petersburg, Fla., is sure to address retailers’ main concern today: how to beat the recession.

But President Chuck Schuyler said the program will also focus on a variety of other issues that retailers face every day, such as marketing, store growth, inventory management and succession planning.

“We’ve got a great crowd,” Schuyler told Footwear News on Tuesday, adding that the conference is sold out. “It’s a who’s who of independent retailers and some great vendors that support our independents.”

A charity event with shoe-giving organization Soles4Souls will kick off the conference at the Don CeSar Beach Resort and will be followed by various breakout sessions, including a keynote speech by author and motivational speaker Dr. Rick Rigsby, a returning guest.

“In the past, it’s been common to use a motivational speaker at the end, but we thought it would be a great way to kick off the conference,” said Schuyler.

Other sessions include a how-to guide to social networking and blogging, a panel discussion on economic challenges and an awards dinner hosted by New Balance CEO Rob DeMartini, recognizing those who have significantly contributed to the independent retailing community. A vendor presentation focused on retailer and vendor problem-solving is also expected to be a big draw.

“Due to marketplace conditions and the department store consolidation today, we’re seeing that many vendors are starting to refocus on opportunities with independent retailers,” he said. “We have different sessions planned where retailers and vendors will be working together and tackling challenges.”

The conference will also focus on next-generation business owners and how they can successfully become part of their family’s stores.

“About 70 NSRA members have next-generation people in their businesses,” said Schuyler. “One of our main initiatives is formally addressing the issues that this group faces.”

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