Making Connections

Retailers, suppliers come together at McLane's National Tradeshow

LAS VEGAS -- Before the week is out, nearly 850 retailers representing more than 20,500 convenience stores will make an appearance at the first-ever National Tradeshow hosted by Temple, Texas-based McLane Co., the industry's largest wholesaler. The event, which runs through Friday, enables retailers to attain purchasing discounts from key supplier partners, learn about new products and category insights, and compare notes with peers from across the country.

This is the first time we've done it using this format, with retailers from both sides of the [image-nocss] country, McLane vice president of marketing Roger Grogman told CSP Daily News. Retailers from the West benefit from the association of meeting with noncompeting retailers from the East, and vice-versa. We all share a commonality of mission and a common interest in growing the business. I'm excited about the attendance, the vendor optimism and the atmosphere of a successful year for everything from food to gum and mints to OTP [other tobacco products] to snack items.

In the past, business transacted on the show floor ranged from $5 million to $10 million, and Grogman expects that number to be even better this year among the more than 225 vendor booths lining the Rio Hotel & Casino's convention center. The creation of the McLane Virtual Tradeshow, an online event able to be accessed through the McLane website ( till May 24, will further facilitate business. It will also add value to retailers that want to make changes or additions to orders after the show. Furthermore, the Virtual Tradeshow enables McLane customers that weren't able to attend the show in person to benefit from show-specific purchase discounts.

Elbert Haynes, general manager of 26-unit Sparky's Food Stores, Plant City Fla., attended the event to see some familiar faces and check out new items that could boost his stores' profitability. Haynes had plenty of opportunities, ranging from Nestle Waters North America's new stackable three-liter bottles and Kronik Energy's young-adult-targeted Kronik Grind energy drinks to Altadis USA's watermelon-flavored blunt cigars and Jack Link's Beef Jerky's new Tender Cuts flavors.

[This year] started off with a bang, and business has been really good for us so far, Haynes told CSP Daily News. We have 16 Subways, and they drive a lot of business. I'm here to find out how the rest of the store can contribute by looking to see what kind of deals [vendors] can pass on to us. So far there's been quite a bit of activity.

Husband-and-wife retailing team Ashwin and Hansa Shah were scouting the show floor in search of new products to carry in their single 7-Eleven store in Henderson, Nevada. It was their second time attending a McLane event.

It's a good opportunity to get familiar with new products in the market, Ashwin told CSP Daily News. Things have changed a lot in the 14 years we've been in this business, but you're always looking for the best deals on high-potential products that will help you become better as a retailer. I'm not always in the store, and this [show] helps me learn what I should or shouldn't be selling.

Other show attractions include category management sessions detailing key purchasing and customer-behavior trends as well as a mock convenience store stocked with items that reflect the best sales environment from retailers across the country.