“Yes We Can” RPMDA Theme at Salt Lake City Convention
The recently concluded Retail Print Music Dealers (RPMDA) Salt Lake City convention was more typical of a “gathering of the clan” than a trade show and seminar session, as dealers and suppliers met and exchanged more hugs than handshakes during the three-day meet held April 29 to May 2nd. The official count was 233 attendees with 126 print dealers and 107 associate members. Typical of the times, attendance was down approximately ten percent from last year’s meeting in Boston. As in the past, the group had an international flavor with registrants from Canada, France, and Germany, as well as the U.S. Two of the highlights were a special performance for RPMDA members by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, arranged by local print dealer Ruby Beeson of Best in Music, and the appearance of “Sesame Street’s” Bob McGrath, who recently completed his 38th year on the PBS series. McGrath’s appearance was sponsored by NAMM, which is a major supporter of the “Sesame Street” show.
What the organization lacked in numbers was more than compensated for by the enthusiasm at the sessions which included a bevy of speakers with a message similar to the past presidential election: “Yes, we can!” Educator Dr. Tim Lautenzheiser delivered the keynote address exhorting the group to lock arms and move ahead, challenging attendees to think beyond their every day comfort zones. He noted that educators, in particular, are in a basic survival mode and that dealers have an opportunity to become “heroes” by helping them through a difficult economy. He urged the assembly to remember that, “We are selling success as part of a music education” and pointed out that the United States is only one of our four countries that promote music in the schools, “and we must preserve it.”
Member at Large,
Member at Large,
Associate Member at Large,
Associate Member at Large,
Danny Rocks, former Alfred Publishing executive and principal in TheCompanyRocks, conducted a session on store design, presenting a series of before and after photos of recent store remodelings. Dealers included in the presentation were West Music, Long & McQuade, Beacock Music Rick’s Music World, and Penders Music. Danny Rocks was aided by panelists Valerie Johnson, West Music; Bob Kohl, Long & McQuade; and Gayle Beacock, Beacock Music. The consensus of the group was to, “keep the presentation simple,” rotate inventory to keep a fresh look within the store, color block merchandise when feasible, and feature new product with forward facings as opposed to library type spine displays.
One of the more popular sessions was the “Best Ideas” hosted by Hal Leonard’s David Jahnke where members submitted their ideas and three winning ideas are selected by the group. The eventual “Best Idea” was to make a video of the store and post it on YouTube, submitted by Julia Moessner, Stanton’s Sheet Music. Other winning ideas including Tracy Leenman’s (Musical Innovations) suggestion of a package of money-saving coupons and Liz Reisman’s (Creative Music Center) idea to present a business card with a $5 store savings to new customers. Other ideas included: Myrna Sislen’s (a VIP reward card for frequent buyers); Ruby Beeson’s of Best In Music (a rotating wall of new product); Becky Lightfoot’s of Pender’s Music (posting publishers’ brochures on the store Web site with a hyperlink, so that prospective customers can review the catalog); Steve’s Music’s Norm Zimmerman’s (visiting elementary and day care classrooms to supply them with musical items); Pete Gamber’s of Alto Music (a three-hour invitation-only sale); and Rick Valentine’s, Dowling Music (recycle old, un-saleable sheet music as wrapping paper and for displays).
Two of the sessions stressed the importance of new technology. Kathy Condon, a motivational speaker, urged the group to create a LinkedIn meeting place on the site. Past RPMDA President Becky Lightfoot responded that RPMDA has a group and invited all to join (ed note: MMR also maintains a LinkedIn group) Ron Cates, an executive with Constant Contact an e-mail delivery system noted that 225 million people use e-mail almost every day in the U.S. Ninety one percent of the age group 18 to 64 send and read e-mail and that the fastest growing segment of the market is the 65 and older set. According to Cates the return on investment in using e-mail as a marketing tool is $57.25 for every $1 spent.
Gayle Beacock, co-owner of Vancouver, Washington’s Beacock Music conducted a spirited session, “Give Your Business An Energy Drink,” leading off with a video outlining the founding of the business by her mother and father some 30 years ago to present day and a new store opening. She reminded the group of similar economic hardships in the early 80′s showing letters to suppliers explaining the company’s credit crunch at that time. Gayle reminded the group that, “Customers are worried about us” and stressed the importance of remaining positive at all times. She advocated changing displays frequently and using hard to stock areas of the store with signage and visual aids and to have a “single-minded determination that anything is possible,” pointing to the store’s successful café operation which has become a meeting place for shoppers.
Next year’s RPMDA convention will be held in April in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.