The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Annual Meeting, held at the end of April in Palm Beach, Fla., is now little more than a distant memory. The retailer and supplier attendees have returned to their daily chores, and the glow that routinely follows a successful industry meeting has begun to dissipate, crowded out by the more mundane chores of daily business.
Yet it would be a mistake to dismiss the week in South Florida as a passing fancy, a brief respite from the daily grind of buying, selling, marketing and merchandising that constitutes the business of mass retailing in 2023. In truth, the Annual Meeting was more than a brief respite — far more.
Forget, for a moment, the social aspects, the renewal of old friendships and the making of new ones, the return to the old ways of doing business, the idle moments at the cabanas, in the vast Breakers lobby or at breakfasts, lunches and dinners in the many Breakers dining rooms. Beyond all that, the Annual Meeting offered an opportunity, at long last, to return to the tried-and-true ways of doing business that our industry had largely forgotten or, instead, had been relegated to a back seat while newer, easier and less effective ways of conducting the business of retailing took center stage.
And this is, of course, where NACDS came in. Let’s make this clear: No retail trade organization organizes, scripts and pulls off a meeting of this scope and size as effectively as does NACDS. From Friday until the following Wednesday, the event unfolded flawlessly. With the business program as a centerpiece, the association made certain that ample time was provided — indeed encouraged — for those meetings and strategy sessions that make this industry work so seamlessly and effectively. That said, it seems superfluous to add that any individual or organization that skipped this event did so at great loss, a loss that cannot be regained or recaptured by attending future events.
But in a larger sense, this meeting was about more than reassuming old practices and regaining old alliances. It signified a return to normalcy, a return to the way it was, a reintroduction to the old ways, the accepted ways, the best ways of doing business.
For that reason, and so many others, it’s time for a final call out to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores for pulling off the near impossible, for bringing the industry together, not always with its unwavering support, to make the 2023 Annual Meeting one of the most successful in its 90-year history.
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