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WHFA Conference Attracts 280 Attendees

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Western Home Furnishings Association announced that its 2010 Conference & Expo at Disney’s Grand California Hotel and Spa in Anaheim, CA, provided the 280 attendees the chance to network with one another, learn from business experts and experience the business behind the magic of Disney. 

"This year’s conference was an extraordinary event," said WHFA’s Executive Director, Sharron Bradley. "There was a positive energy in the air as attendees were eager to learn about new ideas and push past the economic difficulties our industry has faced over the last few years. The magic of Disney also brought in a special touch that left retailers and vendors refreshed and inspired to build a better retail operation." 

The three-day conference started off with the dynamic opening session, Make Some Noise, presented by Ken Schmidt, former director of communications at Harley-Davidson. During his presentation, Schmidt shared with the audience the story of how Harley-Davidson went from a struggling business to being a successful motorcycle company by connecting with their customer and learning what they really wanted—the ability to create customized motorcycles.  

Each morning started with a jolt during the EXpresso Expo sessions, which offered attendees 20-minute shots of education. Developed last year, the EXpresso Expo is a different approach to education within an Expo environment and delivers a large amount of information within a short period of time. A highlight to this year’s EXpresso Expo was a special presentation by Jim "Mack" McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture, Houston, TX. McIngvale inspired and moved the audience with his story of Gallery Furniture; from the first time he created a TV ad to the day that he thought he had lost it all when his main store and warehouse were set on fire due to arson. Through McIngvale’s stories, attendees learned different tips and tricks on how they could make their operation the "World’s Best Furniture Store". 

Another highlight of the conference was the ability to learn from Disney during the special Disney Institute session on Building Brand Loyalty. Presenting the Disney cycle of introducing brands to customers at an early age, this session showed attendees how to build brand loyalists of their business and how to use specific marketing tactics to attract people of all ages to their store.  

Continuing with the business behind the magic, the two-part series by Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender on The Science of Shopping, helped attendees look even further into how Disney creates unique merchandising displays and the little tricks the company uses to get their customer to spend money. 

"Going into the conference, I had high expectations because of the line-up of speakers, but I have to say, the conference far exceeded my expectations," said WHFA President, Claudia LeClair, Fiesta Furnishings. "Having the Disney Institute on board provided a rare insight into the operations and talented minds behind what is one of the most recognized brands in the world. I think everyone who attended will agree that the combination of speakers, seminars and FUN made this one of the best conferences ever!" 

When attendees weren’t busy soaking up new knowledge, they were given numerous opportunities to network with one another and learn from each others stories. Whether it was during nightly dinners or the retailer roundtables, attendees left feeling like they had taken away at least one new idea to implement in their business.  

The event closed Tuesday night with the Retailer of the Year Gala sponsored by Serta. During the gala, Mitchell Gold of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, presented the 2010 Western Retailer of the Year Award to Jim Hering and Ron Werner, co-owners of HW Home in Boulder, Colo. Surrounded by an audience that included close family, friends, vendors and industry peers, Hering and Werner accepted the award with great honor. 

The 2011 NHFA/WHFA All Industry Convention will be held next April 30-May 2 in San Antonio, Texas. For more photos and information on the 2010 WHFA Conference and Expo, visit the WHFA Conference microsite at www.WHFAconference.com

About the WHFA The Western Home Furnishings Association (WHFA) is the largest affiliate of the NHFA, representing nearly 1,000 independent home furnishings retailers in more than 2,400 stores in 12 western states. 

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