Alex GourlayThe expo’s Business Program focused on pro-consumer, pro-pharmacy issues and community involvement. By Bianca Herron

More than 5,000 attendees convened for The National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ (NACDS) Total Store Expo Aug. 19-22 in San Deigo. Held at the San Diego Convention Center, the expo featured more than 700 exhibitors.

With each annual show, NACDS takes extensive steps to help attendees make connections with the right individuals. Several of the highly popular features of the show returned this year, including Meet the Market, where suppliers and retailers meet for brief introductory meetings that set the stage for subsequent and more in-depth conversations.

The show’s Meet the Retailer segment allowed retail companies to brief exhibiting suppliers on strategic priorities. On Aug. 20, Total Store Expo held its Business Program where not only General Colin Powell gave the keynote, but also Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance and president of Walgreens Co., spoke as chairman of NACDS.

Retailer and supplier attendees received a comprehensive briefing on ways that their NACDS engagement can shape their companies’ future, while helping to address issues affecting local communities, the nation and even the world.

“This is where we come together to do two things: to build relationships, and most importantly to help Americans … The talk of everything is change, and I’m extremely optimistic, particularly with the heart of pharmacists at the heart of our industry … We start with the customer as the focus of the future,” Gourlay said.

He noted that NACDS is committed to remaining “forward thinking and highly in tune” with shifting dynamics in the political environment in both retail and healthcare. Additionally, the NACDS is developing a plan to identify NACDS chain members’ work to develop shared value that benefits society. According to Gourlay, a survey is planned to gather this information and to describe these findings alongside similar initiatives by the supplier community.

“We are going to tell the story of chains more clearly, and we are going to echo the story of our supplier partners,” Gourlay explained. “The NACDS Board of Directors will be finalizing the details of this program and we will be announcing it soon, and I hope you will take the survey when it is available. The first step is to measure this engagement so we can tell, learn from, and continue to improve our story.”

FN PlatformThis season’s FN Platform show has an exciting new lineup of celebrities, industry experts and music. By Bianca Herron

The top leaders and innovators in the footwear industry will convene at FN Platform’s MAGIC show Aug. 14-16 in Las Vegas. Held at the Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay Convention Centers, the international showcase touts itself as North America’s most influential footwear business forum featuring men, women, juniors and children’s branded footwear.

Launched in 2010 under the direction of UBM Fashion Group’s President of Footwear Leslie Gallin, MAGIC is a three-day show that has grown from 100 brand exhibitors to more than 1,600 who represent over 30 countries.    

Attendees will be able to check out top footwear brands from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Turkey - including new brands like Danner, Chie Mihara, Les Tropeziennes, Hotter, Reef and Castaner - across more than 200,000 square feet of exhibition space.

“It’s a vital component for success in today’s business environment to make sure you’re in the room,” UBM Fashion President of Footwear Leslie Gallin said in a release. “What this means is face-to-face conversations are forging the business deals for our changing times. Our trade event is, as I like to say, the ‘Davos Summit’ for the footwear and fashion business.

“Nowhere else in the world is there an event where key leaders and decision makers of the footwear industry convene twice yearly under one roof,” she adds.

Attendees can navigate MAGIC’s show floor seamlessly, as it offers six carefully curated lifestyle-themed lounges featuring established and merging brands in the footwear categories:

      • BLACK DIAMOND - Luxury Women’s Footwear Collections

      • COSMO - Women’s Fashion Footwear

      • CAMP - Women’s and Men’s Casual Lifestyle & Advanced Contemporary Footwear

      • BOND – Bespoke Footwear for the Modern Man

      • IN PLAY- Children’s and Junior’s Footwear

      • ZEN – The Crossroads of Footwear Style and Comfort    

“The lounges have an elevated décor providing a comfortable space to re-energize, eat, drink and meet with friends and colleagues,” Gallin says. “We are paying close attention to food selection and cocktail offerings, as well as special art installations to start conversations and stimulate new ideas.

“Expect to find foot massages, and hair and makeup touch-ups to keep everyone looking and feeling their best,” she notes. “This adds to the overall buyer experience for efficiency and fun all under one roof."

In addition, along with new highlights that will be revealed on the show floor this year, attendees can also look forward to several key events the show has become known for, including:


This season’s much-talked about Opening Night Concert boasts a performance from World Classic Rockers with original band members – Nick St. Nicholas and Michael Monarch from Steppenwolf, Aynsley Dunbar from Journey, Randall Hall from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Greg Walker from Santana, Fran Cosmo from Boston, along with David Colye, Mark Hoyt and Juan Del Castillo as back-up.  

The show’s star-studded networking events continue to be a huge draw as well with the concert featuring a networking cocktail event on the show floor Aug. 14 at the FN Cafe.


Beginning Aug. 13, the National Shoe Retailers Association (NSRA) will kick off its two-part educational program topical to the footwear industry. MAGIC will also showcase seminars from Susquehanna Financial Group - who will discuss the evolution of athletic footwear trends - the NPD Group (National Purchase Diary) as well as the California Fashion Association.

Other trend-focused seminars include FDRA, who returns with their hit live podcast “Shoe In,” from the show floor and Fashion Snoops will showcase insights on top footwear trends for Spring/Summer ’18. Additionally, last season’s trend forecaster Wendy Bendoni will brief attendees on top footwear trends for the upcoming season.


PENSOLE Academy will also host a student workshop showcasing a special onsite display featuring sneakers created by students from last season’s competition.

FN Platform’s next shows are Sole Commerce, a women’s and juniors footwear and accessory event, and FOOTWEAR@Coterie - a women’s luxury footwear event that sits within Coterie and coincides with New York Fashion Week. Both of the shows will be held Sept. 17-19 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. 

San Diego Comic ConWith more than 135,000 attendees each year, San Diego Comic-Con showcases the latest, on-trend programming in pop culture. (Photo credit: Melia Robinson/Tech Insider) By Bianca Herron

San Diego Comic-Con returns to the San Diego Convention Center beginning with Preview night on Wednesday, July 19 through Sunday, July 23. 

This year is San Diego Comic-Con’s 48th year, making it North America’s longest continuously run comics and popular arts convention.

Organized by the San Diego Comic Convention, its parent organization, San Diego Comic-Con is held each July in San Diego, Calif., at the San Diego Convention Center. More than 135,000 people and over 1,000 exhibitors attend the pop culture convention each year.

Some of its highlights include a diverse exhibit floor featuring publishers, movie studios, television networks, game manufacturers, interactive multimedia and retail art. San Diego Comic-Con prides itself for featuring 2,000 hours of programming on all aspects of comics and popular art.

Attendees will be able to peruse a wide selection of timely programs, including new movies, television shows, comics, games and other aspects of popular art.

“As fans of pop culture ourselves, we always try to produce the type of event we would want to attend,” Communications & Strategy Coordinator Robert Sayler told Retail Merchandiser.

“I think this is part of the reason for our continued success,” he adds. “No matter your interest, you’ll love our programming. If you are a film fan, then news and celebrities (both from behind and in front of the camera) might be the most outstanding for you. However, the same is true for comic fans, fans of costuming and videogames, amongst other things.

“It’s wonderful seeing so many people have a genuinely great time,” Sayler concludes. “Even if they have to wait in line, they make the most of it by making new friends and sharing stories of their experiences at the show. Hopefully they were introduced to new adventures and look forward to taking part in those adventures again.” 

NACDS NACDS’s upcoming Total Store Expo aims to provide an engaging platform where attendees can network with the right people. By Bianca Herron

More than 5,000 attendees will soon convene for The National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ (NACDS) Total Store Expo. Held at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, the show will take place Aug. 19-22 and feature more than 700 exhibitors.

With each annual show, NACDS takes extensive steps to help attendees make connections with the right individuals, says Senior Vice President of Member Programs & Services James Whitman.

“This show is a culmination of different conferences and tradeshows that were held separately,” he explains. “We brought them together in 2013 under the banner of Total Store Expo. Our goal was to bring everyone together in a venue where they could have the kinds of robust discussions that would prove beneficial not only to themselves, but to everyone who attended.”

At the Total Store Expo, Whitman notes that an attendee can meet with someone in the supply chain, advertising, sales, and retail and manufacturing, amongst other segments of the industry. “This conference is designed to foster collaboration between chains and suppliers on diverse products throughout the store, as well as collaboration across company functions and personnel,” he explains. “The event focuses on business meetings, experiencing products and services first-hand, educational programming and extensive networking.

“Highly strategic efforts are employed to equip companies with resources needed to prepare for the event and to maximize success,” Whitman adds. “That’s the advantage of the Total Store Expo.”

Innovation On Purpose

Although held in a different city each year, Whitman notes that the innovation of the Total Store Expo extends well beyond its location. “Every year the industry changes in some way,” he says. “For example, there are always new players on both the retail and manufacturing side. So every year brings new, unique companies and individuals to the show.”   

One of the most popular features of the show is Meet the Retailer, which allows retail companies to brief exhibiting suppliers on strategic priorities. “These retailers provide intelligence about how best to foster collaborative relationships,” Whitman says. “We continue to refine this segment to make it more effective for all attendees.”  

Total Store Expo’s Meet the Market program is another key highlight of the show. “At Meet the Market, suppliers and retailers meet for brief introductory meetings that set the stage for subsequent and more in-depth conversations,” Whitman explains. “Also, the Vision 2028 section of the exhibit hall will focus on companies’ offerings in the areas of alternative competition, e-commerce, promotion effectiveness and the role of assortment.”   

On Aug. 20, Total Store Expo will hold its Business Program where NACDS Chairman Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance & president of Walgreens Co., will speak and General Colin Powell will keynote the event.

“Our philosophy with this program is that if you’re going to be well-rounded in both your professional and personal life, you need to be informed and aware of what’s happening in the world,” Whitman notes. “This program is a good time to update attendees on things happening in the world that could impact them in some capacity. I think Colin is a good representative that can speak to what’s timely right now.”  

Other topics that will be addressed at Total Store Expo include health information technology, pharmaceutical trends, the health and wellness consumer, supply chain collaboration and digital marketing.

No matter what an individual or company may be looking for; Total Store Expo will meet their needs, Whitman notes. “This show provides a good opportunity to recalibrate, confirm or re-confirm,” he says. “It’s also an opportunity to look for new ideas, plan ahead, be a mentor to someone else, meet with your peers, learn and explore.

“There’s a tremendous amount of engagement within these four days of the expo,” he adds. “This is also a tremendous industry with tremendous individuals who have tremendous opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives. At NACDS, we approach everything we do with the needs of our members in mind. That is why the show is reflective of what’s happening in the industry. It’s our goal to provide what they need as much as we possibly can during Total Store Expo.   

“Ultimately, this show is truly geared towards making our attendees better,” Whitman concludes. “It also gives them an opportunity to expand and explore. If you’re not coming to the show, you should. And if you are coming, take advantage of everything you possibly can.” 

ETAIL PREVIEWeTail provides a high-quality, curated platform to ensure its attendees take away solutions and are networking with the right people. By Bianca Herron

Founded in 1999, eTail was born with one goal in mind: to provide an outlet for online and multichannel executives to grow their business.

Eighteen years later, eTail is a global conference series with major events in Palm Springs, Fla.; Boston; and Toronto, London, Berlin, and other international cities.

This year’s event will be held in Boston, Aug. 15-18 at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. Organized by the Worldwide Business Research, the solutions-driven conference will cover hot topics such as e-commerce through interactive roundtable discussions, panels, workshops and presentations.

Through premier content, eTail is designed to help its versatile mix of retailers – who make up 60 percent of the event’s attendance – to optimize profits from their business.

With 3,000 attendees, more than 100 speakers and hundreds of retail companies – from start-ups to travel, beauty, arts, electronics and more – eTail provides a high-quality, curated platform to ensure its attendees take away solutions and are networking with the right people.

eTail will feature an elite panel of speakers from across the retail industry, such as apparel and accessories to major department stores and electronics. Notable speakers at this year’s show include John Yesko, senior director of digital experience for Walgreens; Paul Murray, director of digital innovation for Dunkin Brands; and Rajeev Rai, CTO for Neiman Marcus.

Highlights of the event’s educational and track program include:

Panel Discussion: “Keep Your Customer Coming Back For More: Enhancing The Relationship With Your Brand.” Speakers: Vice President of Direct Marketing for Wayfair Robert Sherwin and Bridget O’Brien, vice president of brand, communications and creative for Vistaprint.

Panel Discussion: “Going Beyond Omni-Channel: Removing Channel Barriers To Better Serve Your Customers.” Speaker: Rajeev Rai, CTO for Neiman Marcus.

Keynote Panel Debate: “Understanding Disruption, Innovation and Brick and Mortar Success.”

Panel Discussion: “The e-Commerce Platform Landscape: Taking A Look At What Powers Your Business.”

Panel Discussion: “Making The Mobile Experience Better For Today’s Consumers To Convert Traffic To Sales.

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