Debra Smith

Editor in chief of Dealerscope

As the winter slogs on into early spring, fewer customers are trafficking CE, appliance and furniture retailers. To adjust, retailers are running leaner, meaner and smarter than ever. For help, retailers are looking to their buying groups—networks of like-minded peers—for guidance, cost-saving strategies and empathy. 

Directors of some of the industry's leading buying groups recently spoke with Dealerscope editor Nancy Klosek for our annual buying group roundtable, to be featured in the upcoming March issue of Dealerscope. Here are some excerpts in which the directors discuss some of the most important dealer initiatives they’ll be launching during the year.

Elan takes a chance at hosting its own dealer conference By David Dritsas Elan Home Systems wagered that it could host a two-day conference for its network of dealers, hoping that many of them would make a trip off the beaten path to Lexington, Ky., home to horse racing, bourbon and Elan's corporate headquarters. The bet paid off in spades, as approximately 380 people attended, beating the company's most optimistic expectations. The population ranged from owners to salespeople to technicians. "I was hoping for 150," said Cat Fowler, director of marketing for Elan, "but by the the end I was unfortunately turning people

By Jamie Latshaw MARCO ISLAND, Fla.--The Professional Audio/Video Retailers Association (PARA) faced tough issues, namely Internet exposure and e-commerce, during its annual conference. PARA itself unveiled its official web site ( during the thick of it. The initial announcement that PARA joined with KnowledgeLink "created a lot of interesting conversations," PARA's Executive Director Debra Smith said. KnowledgeLink is PARA's first step in its Link and Listings program, which "has nothing to do with e-commerce and has to do with referring customers to stores and to encourage [PARA dealers] to have web sites, pay attention to their web sites and to create awareness through their web

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