The mood was upbeat and spirits were high at Chain Store Age’s 43rd SPECS conference. The annual event, held this year in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., attracted retailers, architects, designers and contractors from around the country, who came together to share ideas and discuss challenges and opportunities.
The program balanced inspiring keynote presentations, targeted educational workshops and a vibrant exhibit floor (the Solution Center) that offered the latest in store planning, construction and facilities-management products and services.
The event attracted all segments of the retail industry, from specialty apparel chains to supermarkets to discounters. Some of the chains in attendance included The Home Depot, Wal-Mart Stores, Limited Brands, Payless ShoeSource, Rite Aid, Wegmans Food Markets, Advance Auto Parts, Bass Pro Shops and The Bon-Ton Stores.
Specialty food and restaurants were well-represented by such operators as Starbucks Coffee Co., BUCA, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Chipotle Mexican Grill. A complete list of the retail chains and other companies, including suppliers, at SPECS/2007 starts on page 212.
This year’s educational program kicked off with an insightful, pre-conference presentation on personal development. The regular program offered workshop tracks in big-box construction, small-box construction, store planning and design, and personal development.
In addition, the agenda included a business strategy track, which provided attendees valuable information about new and innovative business trends that will impact their businesses in the coming years. A solutions track, 20-minute mini-sessions offered real-life solutions to real-life situations.
The SPECS tradition of business partnering and networking was very much in abundance at this year’s event. There was plenty of opportunity for both, on a formal and informal basis, throughout the show. Retailers and other attendees renewed old ties and forged new alliances at breakfast, during the workshops, over meals and at coffee breaks. Everyone had a chance to unwind at the evening receptions.
SPECS/2008 will be held March 9-12, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, and planning is already well under way. The program is being developed by the SPECS Advisory Board, which consists of retailers and suppliers.