Natural Foods Merchandiser

Workshops add advanced training to Expo East

by Chris O'Brien

For retailers who want to go home from Natural Products Expo East with more than just a bag—and stomach—full of product samples, more than a dozen Retailer Workshops will offer a chance to pick experts' brains and learn from successful veterans of the naturals industry.

On Wednesday, Oct. 15, the day before the show floor opens, retailers will have access to a full day of workshops focused on key aspects of running a store, including the latest on organics, expansion, dealing with distributors, in-store merchandising and demos.

"The premise of the Retailer Workshops is to offer a valuable education series with comprehensive information and tools that retailers can take back to their store and staff," says Courtney Hathaway, program manager for Expo East. "There really isn't any other kind of training, schooling or degree that one can get for independent [naturals] retailing."

Participation in any or all of the workshops is available for a single fee of $95, or $75 for Natural Products Association East members. Included in the workshop pass are a networking breakfast from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and a midday organic lunch.

"We will have sessions for just about every department manager in the store," Hathaway says. "Sales and merchandising, operations, core management, staffing—and this year an expanded track for industry veterans—all of the essential retailing elements that a store owner may want to learn more about."

Monumental management

To kick off the day, opening keynote speaker Victoria Halsey, Ph.D., vice president of applied learning at the Ken Blanchard Companies, a management training and consulting firm, will speak about techniques from Ken Blanchard's The One Minute Manager (Blanchard Family, 1981) that can help retailers increase productivity, job satisfaction and prosperity. Halsey, a trainer, inspirational speaker and co-author of Hamster Revolution: Stop Info Glut and Reclaim Your Life (Berrett-Koehler, 2007), specializes in increasing learning and leadership potential. She has designed large-scale leadership and customer-service programs for numerous Fortune 500 companies such as Nike, Toyota, Gap, Sony and Wells Fargo.

Advanced training

New this year to the Retailer Workshops is the Advanced Training Track, a series of workshops that delve deeper into the technicalities of running a store. First up in the Advanced Track is "Marketing and the Interactive Arena: Extracting Real Value From Your Web Site." This workshop takes retailers step-by-step through best practices for design, navigation and back-end engineering of Web sites. It's hosted by Jeffrey Spear, president of Studio Spear and former Consumer Products Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association, along with Rob Ierubino, president of M Prime Systems, a leading software developer and systems integrator.

Also in the Advanced Track, retailers can attend an interactive discussion with Bill Crawford, director of retail publishing programs at NFM's parent company, New Hope Natural Media, titled "Double Vision? Keeping Your Focus on Both the Present and the Future," and learn how to grow business by focusing on future opportunities while attending to the details necessary for today's success. Crawford is a natural products industry retail veteran and adjunct professor at three Oklahoma colleges, with three degrees in management and a history of working with retailers in purchasing, marketing, business strategy and leadership development.

Throughout the day, retail experts will also bring their fresh ideas and experience to topics such as store layout, back-room organics, sales, financing, suppliers and human resources.

Growing giants

Closing out the day, Maggie Bayless, managing partner and founder of Zingerman's Training Inc., or ZingTrain—named "the coolest small company in America" by Inc. magazine—will present "Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big," looking at how smaller retailers can find real success without continuously expanding.

For more information on the Retailer Workshops or to sign up, visit

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 9/p. 14

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