NACDS Annual’s open questions

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The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is about to convene its Annual Meeting, that laudable and impressive gathering of mass retailers and suppliers that highlights every spring. This year’s event is, if possible, even more critical for mass retailing’s future, given the forced infection-imposed hiatus that curtailed recent gatherings.

Yet this year’s Annual Meeting is also fraught with as-yet unanswered questions and unresolved issues that could dampen the event and put a crimp in the Annual Meeting’s unsurpassed reputation as the leading organizer of groundbreaking mass retail gatherings.

So, without further delay, here are four issues that remain question marks for NACDS on the eve of the Annual Meeting:

• The CVS issue. Considerable time has passed since CVS withdrew from the association, yet both parties continue to feel some pain. In marketing terms, CVS clearly misses the camaraderie and experience-sharing that NACDS routinely provided. For NACDS’ part, a convention without the participation of one of America’s two leading drug chains has created a void. How serious and irreparable a void remains to be seen. This year’s Annual Meeting will, one hopes, provide some answers.

• Will grocery’s dynamic role in the prescription drug business finally be given its appropriate accolade? Quietly, or perhaps not so, supermarket retailers have assumed a leadership position in the health care arena. The feeling here is that NACDS needs to recognize that achievement in more dramatic and overt ways than it has been doing to date. And what better time than now.

• The Rite Aid question. Once upon a time, Rite Aid, along with Walgreens and CVS, was part of the golden trio that separated NACDS from its rival trade organizations. No longer. Indeed, Rite Aid’s very future is in question. NACDS should — indeed must — continue to treat Rite Aid as a full partner, unless and until that partnership no longer exists. Rite Aid is owed at least that much respect — as, indeed, NACDS is as well.

• The power and the glory of the NACDS Annual Meeting must be maintained and enhanced. NACDS has a critical tiger by the tail here. The time has come for the association to fully appreciate what it has and begin to enlarge and embellish it so it more nearly conforms to the hopes, expectations and beliefs of those industry people who unfailingly present themselves in Palm Beach, Fla., each year (with an occasional side journey west) to be dazzled, impressed and enhanced in their continuing quest for perfection — or, at the least, for improvement in their quest for perfection.

How will the association embrace this challenge? Who knows.



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