The recently concluded event for the nation's independent grocers featured a packed agenda with more than 60 educational sessions covering a range of issues.
As the grocery industry’s last major trade show to go off without a hitch in the run-up to travel restrictions imposed by the outbreak of COVID-19, otherwise known as coronavirus, the 2020 NGA Show, which was held Feb. 23-26 at the San Diego Convention Center, featured a packed agenda with more than 60 educational sessions and more than 100 speakers discussing a range of issues facing food retailers. Eleven workshop tracks explored topics such as omnichannel marketing, compliance, future stores, focus on fresh, foodservice, operating for excellence, strategies for competing, e-commerce, center store, people development and top tech trends.
“The NGA Show continues to grow and provide a place where independent grocers gather to network and learn best practices,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO. “From expert guidance on how to sell CBD in stores, to leveraging the power of plant-based foods to retention strategies, attendees left the show with a perspective that captures the current issues and future trends that are vital to the success of grocers and wholesalers. We look forward to further success as we move back to Las Vegas next year for the 2021 NGA Show,” which is set for March 7-9, 2021, at the soon-to-open Caesars Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas.
During his keynote presentation, Neil Stern, who leads the food practice of Chicago-based retail consultancy McMillanDoolittle, discussed the three “extremes” he said is driving retail today: extreme value, extreme convenience and extreme experience. Stern also gave NGA 2020 attendees one of the wisest takeaways: “Physical retailing isn’t dying. Bad retail is.”
World-renowned presidential historian, public speaker and Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin provided insight into what made past presidents great leaders and how they overcame challenges that have shaped American history. Following her keynote speech, she was interviewed by fellow history buff Ferrara.
K-VA-T Food Stores’ grand opening celebration of its new Food City in Abingdon, Va., earned the top Outstanding Marketer honors in NGA’s Creative Choice Awards program, which honors the best merchandising and marketing programs in the grocery industry that increase and positively impact overall store sales or provide a unique benefit to the community. Food City’s Abingdon grand opening event generated massive excitement in the community, resulting in strong traditional media and social media coverage.
The Creative Choice Outstanding Merchandiser trophy was awarded to Brookshire Grocery Co. for its Big Grocery Cart that is more than 12 feet high and can carry 1,000 bags of groceries. The cart is used by Brookshire’s to travel throughout communities they serve. So far, the cart has traveled 16,000 miles across the country. The Big Grocery Cart gained extensive media coverage and generated excitement among costumers, leading to Brookshire’s fielding more than 150 requests to attend parades, festivities, grand openings and food drives.
Nicole Cote of Hannaford Supermarket in Maine defeated 22 other best baggers from across the country to claim a grand prize of $10,000. The Best Bagger Championship was sponsored by PepsiCo and was emceed by Akbar Gbajabiamila, co-host of NBC’s "American Ninja Warrior" and author of "Everyone Can Be a Ninja."
Katie West of Dorothy Lane Market was the runner-up, winning a $5,000 cash prize, while Nick Finnegan of Nugget Markets came in third place. D.J. Clark of K-VA-T Food Stores came in fourth place and Elijah Stroot of Cosentino’s Price Chopper rounded out the top five Best Baggers.
The Best Bagger championship was first held in 1987 and was designed to demonstrate the important customer service skill of bagging. Contestants are judged by speed of bagging, proper bag-building technique, weight distribution in the bag, as well as style, attitude and appearance.
A contingent of superfans from Roche Bros. came out in force to cheer on their “best baggah”: Kathleen Maroun, who works at Roche’s Downtown Crossing store in Boston.
No NGA Show would be complete without a sighting of Springdale, Ark.-based Harps Food Stores Kim and Karen Eskew.
Michael Needler (left) of Fresh Encounter Inc. stands with Ferrara of NGA.
Ron Bonacci (left), VP of marketing and advertising for Weis Markets, and Dennis Host, VP of marketing at Coborn’s, co-led a retail marketing workshop, where the fate of the stalwart print ad was a hot topic.
United Natural Foods Inc. executives Chris Testa (right), president and chief marketing officer, and Steve Dietz, Pacific Region president, attended the show
Save-A-Lot EVP and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Proctor (left) discussed discounters during a workshop at the recent NGA Show, where he was joined by his colleague Mo Khan, regional director.
Bryan Neiman (left), president and CEO of Neiman's Family Market, and Tom Clark, president and CEO of Clark’s Market, discussed their approach with quick-service restaurants.
Rudy Dory (center), executive chairman of Bend, Ore.-based Newport Avenue Market, was honored with NGA’s Thomas K. Zaucha Entrepreneurial Excellence Award.
“When you think of what it means to be an entrepreneur, Rudy Dory comes to mind. He’s worked almost his entire professional life in the grocery industry, growing Newport Avenue Market over the last 25 years into an innovative and strong business,” Ferrara said while presenting the award. “The company is dialed into the local community, providing excellence and quality to their customers. For Rudy, his love and passion for what he does is as strong as ever and our entire industry is better because of him.”
Rick Brindle of Mondelez International joined Ferrara in presenting Dory with his Entrepreneurial Excellence award.
Immediately following the opening keynote session, volunteers packed more than 1,000 “You Matter” snack packs in partnership with Matter and sponsored by Cub Foods, to provide healthy snacks and nutrition education to those in need in the local San Diego area. Filled with nutritious snacks and nutrition education, Retail Feedback Group’s Brian Numainville (third from right) and a Matter volunteer said each MatterBox snack pack acts as a “nutrition activator,” helping people take their first steps toward a healthier life. Each snack pack assembled at the NGA Show included personalized notes from NGA attendees to recipients, whose items were donated by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Mondelez International and WowButter.
“We were delighted to partner with Matter and Cub Foods to provide NGA Show attendees an opportunity to help those in need in the San Diego area. We are gratified that this event will make a difference in the local community,” said Courtney Muller, chief corporate development and strategy officer of Clarion Events North America, which produces the NGA Show.