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Report On WHFA Conference in Tucson, AZ

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Western Home Furnishings Association’s announced that their 2008 Conference & Expo in Tucson, Ariz. On May 18 – 20 touted a new look, fresh style, cool format, more fun. The fun and excitement started on Sunday afternoon, when conference attendees braved the hot, Arizona sun and followed the booming music to the tennis courts at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. Once there, attendees were handed colored bandanas which grouped them into 16 teams for the Build-a-Bike and Learn to Build a Better Relationship with Your Community opening session, sponsored by Powell Company. Each team was responsible for building two bikes and at the conclusion of the event, 32 bikes were donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson. “The Powell Company was happy to sponsor and participate in the Build-a-Bike Charity event at the WHFA Conference,” said Gary Glick, senior VP of sales for Powell Company. “It was a wonderful event for a great cause and a whole lot of fun knowing that the bikes were going to be given to boys and girls that earned them through hard work and community participation.” The fun continued that night as attendees participated in the first ever Late Night Lounge, sponsored by American General Financial Services. Once inside the LNL, retailers lounged on cozy furniture provided by aspenhome and were able to share their vocal talents on the karaoke machine during the Desert Idol contest or challenge a fellow retailer to a Wii bowling match. Julane Whalen, Color Ad, wowed the crowd with her rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s, “I will Survive” and was crowned the winner of Desert Idol. On Monday and Tuesday, attendees were fired up for the meat of conference — the education and Retailer-to-Retailer Roundtables. With a new format, attendees were able to choose from a multitude of sessions — one for each learning type. Many retailers participated in Brad Huisken’s version of Retail Selling Jeopardy, while others attended Scott Toland’s energizing session on Inside-Out Marketing: A View form Your Customer’s Perspective. Overall, each session had plenty of retailers open to new ideas and change. With repeated session on both days, attendees were able to hear a wide variety to topics. Perhaps one of the most insightful sessions of conference was the Town Hall Discussion — Confessions of a Female Consumer. Facilitated by Jody Seivert and Toland, conference attendees were able to ask their questions to a panel of four female consumers and find out their true likes and dislikes in the furniture shopping experience — from what types of advertising gets them into a store to what they expect out of a return policy. This year, the Retailer-to-Retailer Roundtables were extended to give attendees more idea sharing and generating time and continued to be one of the favorite sessions for attendees. “I enjoy the roundtables the best because I think it is good to hear what others are doing in their stores,” said Sally Servido, Silverado Home & Design. “I received many great ideas from other retailers on how to save money in my store and plan on implementing some of those ideas when I return home.” When retailers weren’t attending educational sessions, they visited the all new Expo, where vendors were found demonstrating new products and services along with raffling off fun giveaways. The closing session, The Age of Speed, with Vince Poscente, not only had people thinking about their life and business but brought tears to many people’s eyes with his inspirational message. As a former Olympian, Poscente shared with the audience his own triumphs and tribulations and told the audience to embrace speed. At the end of the session, retailers lined up to receive their own autographed copy of Poscente’s bestselling book, The Age of Speed. With all of the educational sessions completed, retailers were ready for one last celebration — The Retailer of the Year Gala. Howard Haimsohn presented the Retailer of the Year award to his friends, and fellow competitors, Jerome’s Furniture. Jerry Navarra, Ann Navarra and Lee Goodman accepted the award on behalf of Jerome’s Furniture and were honored to be included in such a wonderful event. The evening closed with new friends dancing to the sounds of Mogollon and having a great time. About the WHFA and NHFA: The Western Home Furnishings Association (WHFA) is the largest affiliate of the NHFA, representing more than 1,100 independent home furnishings retailers in more than 2,800 stores in 12 western states. National Home Furnishings Association (NHFA) is the nation’s largest organization devoted specifically to the needs and interests of home furnishings retailers. NHFA’s membership comprises 2,800 corporate entities representing 10,000 stores in all 50 states and several foreign countries.

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