April 21, 2015
Photo: Roderick Buchanan from The British Museum, addresses the crowd during his opening keynote, “Is There a Silver Bullet?”
The 2015 MSA Retail Conference & Expo wrapped up this week with a hard-hitting closing keynote address by award-winning photographer Dick Durrance. “Visualize the opportunities that surround you, and then the actions that will transform your dreams into reality,” he said while our jaws dropped over his breath taking photos from around the world.
The Hartford conference was successful for many reasons— a sold out expo floor, many new vendor members, hundreds of returning MSA members and plenty new ones. MSA was worked hard to ensure the caliber of speakers as well as the content they delivered. Whether the speakers talked about leadership, business planning, marketing or store design, they consistently reinforced the message that this conference was about nonprofit retail professionals and the importance of their contributions to their organizations.
Barbara Lenhardt, director of retail operations for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and outgoing president of the MSA Board of Directors stated that “MSA’s learning resources are the most important asset of the association.” MSA Executive Director and CEO, Jama Rice, emphasized MSA’s commitment to the professional growth of MSA members when she said, “I take seriously MSA ensuring that we all understand the business of retail. I take seriously the experience that each of you has as you develop and grow throughout your career. Let’s take seriously MSA’s obligation to helping you help the institutions to which you have given your careers.”
This commitment was evident everywhere and it was woven through every event during the four-day conference. As one attendee stated, “With the quality line-up of the sessions offered this year, I was able to convince my director that I should attend MSA annually instead of the previous every-other-year registration that had been approved. And the sessions lived up to their promise.”
Sessions that created buzz among attendees included Kevin Mullaney with the Grayson Company who talked about the four simple principles guaranteed to improve store sales; Paul Flickinger with Manask & Associates who spoke about the critical factors to successfully manage up; Andrew Andoniadis with Andoniadis Retail Services who presented a workshop on open-to-buy strategies; and the opening keynote, Roderick Buchanan from the British Museum Company, who shared insights on the techniques he employed to grow the profits four-fold since joining the company in 2008.
The 2016 MSA Conference & Expo was announced. Next year the conference will be held in Atlanta at the Westin Peachtree Plaza with the expo to be held in temporary space in Atlanta’s America’s Mart connected to the Westin via a walkway. Watch for details… it’s less than a year away!