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Wholesaler Central: A Legacy That Drives HDA Forward

In 2003, the first Group Merchandising Conference (GMC) was held in Atlanta. Inspired by distributor requests and a successful one-on-one, prescheduled meeting format, the GMC was designed to be a product-centric event for established and new vendors while simultaneously presenting new vendor programs to the group. After 20 years, the GMC has remained one of the most interactive events in the industry.

“We wanted to present something unique and challenge the industry norm by guaranteeing that a vendor attending one of our events would speak directly to our attending distributor members and truly eliminate the risk of manning a booth with no foot traffic,” says Shari Kalbach, president of Hardlines Distribution Alliance (HDA). “This collaboration is what has and continues to set HDA and our events apart.”

The GMC challenged the typical booth format by allowing attending vendors to take over a hotel suite and cater their displays, planograms and product samples to utilize the suite to its full potential. As technology evolved, many attending vendors began integrating digital presentations, electronic marketing materials and more elaborate product demonstrations into their private meetings. The suite setting also had the added benefit of providing a quiet meeting space so attending vendors had the undivided attention of a distributor-buyer audience.

Now, as plans ramp up for the May 6-9 GMC in Indianapolis, HDA continues to maximize the product-focused event by highlighting new vendors with a product preview, integrating one-on-one meetings with social networking opportunities and bringing industry professionals together during a spring timeline that benefits member distributor fall show schedules. In addition, HDA’s merchandising team guides new and existing vendors on how best to utilize the time they have in front of attending HDA distributors.

Facilitating collaboration, new ideas and success across all channels in the industry, from manufacturers to distribution to retail, remains HDA’s central mission. With another GMC right around the corner, HDA continues to facilitate exceptional events that challenge the norm and drive the hardlines industry forward.

About Jacob Musselman

Jacob is the content coordinator for Hardware Retailing Magazine. A lifelong Hoosier, Jacob earned a B.S. in journalism and telecommunications with a minor in digital publishing from Ball State University. He loves making bagels, going to farmers markets with his wife Hannah and two dogs and watching Formula One.

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