Retailers Seek Solutions at NSRA Event

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Vendors and retailers came together at last week’s first annual NSRA conference, held here at the Don Cesar Resort, to tackle the industry’s hottest topic: surviving the downturn.

During opening day, a panel discussion featuring both manufacturers and independent retailers — including Steve Prince of New Balance, Daniel Silver of Birki’s, Scott Morin of Earth Footwear, Ray Margiano of Foot Solutions, Jeff Greenberg of Lloyd’s Shoes and Joel Sigal of Little’s Shoe Stores — touched on inventory control solutions, payment flexibility, credit issues and how both sides are proactively trying to help each other through the economic crisis.

“As vendors, [we] have to listen and learn from [retailers],” said Birki’s Silver. “We [have to] help you sell through the product.”

The other hot topic of the day emerged during a lively question-and-answer session, which morphed into a discussion about how retailers can cut costs and boost business through the do-it-yourself approach, such as holding weekend trunk shows and renting small booths at industry expos.

The day’s final presenter was speaker and author Rick Segel, who urged retailers to get online fast. “Facebook, Twitter, blogging: This is the lowest-cost option for marketing and it’s available more than ever,” Segel said.

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