LOS ANGELES -- If supermarkets have questions about video, the Video Software Dealers Association convention is the place to get them answered, said Jeffrey P. Eves, VSDA's president, in a preshow interview.
This year's show will be held here, July 10 to 13, in the home town of the movie industry and of VSDA. It's theme: "VSDA on Location in Hollywood."
The show comes at a time when VSDA is seeking to boost supermarket membership, but also when a number of major retailers have said they are getting out of the rental business. Among them: Dominick's Finer Foods, Northlake, Ill.; Stop & Shop Cos., Quincy, Mass., and Meijer Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich. "We have seen a number of supermarkets back away from the video business, and you have to ask yourself, why? This is not happening in the video business as a whole. It seems to be happening disproportionately with the supermarkets," said Eves.
"If supermarkets have some trouble understanding what the keys to success are, then it is worth their time to show up and learn more about this business," he said.
Top management should attend, as well as video executives, Eves added. "If the presidents of the motion picture studios and the presidents of the biggest retailers in the country can be there, the heads of the supermarkets ought to be there as well," he said.
This year's show could be one of the best-attended in the history of the event and it will include more entertainment, including parties on the lots of three major studios. A special, invitation-only breakfast for supermarket executives also is on the agenda.
Here is what Eves had to say about supermarket participation in this year's convention and in the association as a whole:
SN: What trend do you expect in supermarket attendance at the show this year?
EVES: My guess is it will be up, because it is certainly up in every other category. We have sold more preregistrations to the convention at this point [five weeks prior to the show] than we have in any of our last three years. We have probably signed up twice as many people so far as we did for Dallas.
SN: What aspect of the show will be most important to supermarket retailers?
EVES: I would go to the show to network and to try to understand what it is that is causing people in other sectors of this business to be more successful. I would use that opportunity to better educate myself and help me understand what the common denominators and characteristics are for those who have been most successful in this business. SN: What else will be significant about this year's show?
EVES: The one thing that has gotten a lot of excitement is, there are many retailers out there who would have loved to have gone to a party on the back lot of a studio, and this year they have an opportunity to do that.
Our convention is three things: It's about business, it's about education and it's about entertainment. We think that this is going to be a pretty exciting show, partially because this is the first time in 15 years that we've ever done it in Hollywood's backyard.
SN: What progress has VSDA made in its effort to attract more supermarket members?
EVES: Our progress has been mediocre. We have consistently had a number of supermarkets as members. Some come in, some go out.
SN: What of the task force VSDA set up to encourage supermarket membership?
EVES: To put what we are doing in the right context, we are making a special effort to have VSDA grow as an organization. As a part of that, we are clearly trying to attract new members to VSDA and companies that have not in the past been part of it.
The supermarkets are part of that industry and we would welcome their involvement and their participation, as we would other groups.
SN: If you were a supermarket video executive pitching VSDA membership to your upper management, what would you tell them?
EVES: There are two arguments. The first thing I would tell them is that every single successful video retailer in the nation is a VSDA member.
The second thing I would tell them is, there is a direct proportional relationship between how well you understand this business and how successful you are going to be. VSDA, more than any other organization out there, can keep you informed and up to speed about what is going on in this business.
VSDA is the cutting-edge difference between those retailers who are going to be successful in the video business and those who fall by the wayside. That has never been more true than it is today when there is more competition for the consumer's leisure time.
Supermarkets operate their stores using category management, and VSDA is the expert in the category of video.