RETAILERS PLAN FOR UPCOMING VIDEO SHOWS

It's video showtime again.Following on the heels of the Food Marketing Institute convention, held in Chicago May 5 to 8, is the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (also called E3) in Los Angeles from May 16 to 18. Next comes the Video Software Dealers Association show in Los Angeles in July, and then the East Coast Video Show in October, which will be held in Atlantic City, N.J.Because the shows

It's video showtime again.

Following on the heels of the Food Marketing Institute convention, held in Chicago May 5 to 8, is the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (also called E3) in Los Angeles from May 16 to 18. Next comes the Video Software Dealers Association show in Los Angeles in July, and then the East Coast Video Show in October, which will be held in Atlantic City, N.J.

Because the shows are spread out this year, both in dates and locations, it's a little easier for supermarket video executives to choose which show to attend.

According to a recent VSDA survey, 89.7% of supermarkets know about the VSDA convention, but only 41.4% have ever attended. Supermarket chains that have gone include Pathmark, Meijer, Nash Finch, Randalls, several Kroger Marketing Areas, King Soopers, Fry's, Dillons, Wegmans, Fleming, Coburns, Stop & Shop, Roundy's, Raley's and Save Mart. Companies that run video rental and sell-through programs in supermarkets are U.S. Video, Video III, the Movie Exchange, Video Management Co. and three companies that make up Rentrak Corp.'s Blowout Entertainment. Jamie Molitor, manager of video operations at Dierbergs Markets, Chesterfield, Mo., is excited about going to VSDA, which will run from July 10 to 13. Molitor is new to the video department and the category and said she hasn't been to any shows. "It will be a learning experience for me. I'm looking forward to learning about how the studios work," Molitor said.

Rick Channell, health and beauty care and general merchandise manager at Riser Food, Bedford Heights, Ohio, has been to the VSDA show in the past and said it has been a good experience. But he said he doesn't have the time to attend this year.

"We need to be here more than we need to be at the show," he said. Other retailers feel the same.

"I'm too busy," said Bob Glisch, vice president of operations at NDC/Mega Marts, Oak Creek, Wis. "I take care of operations for the entire grocery category. Video is a small part of my concern." Robert Dodge, video supervisor at Shop Rite in Mahwah, N.J., also doesn't have the time to go. He said it's more important to devote his time to his company's retail business. However, Dodge might go to the East Coast Video Show later this year because of its proximity to his company's corporate headquarters.

The fact that the VSDA show is being held in Los Angeles and that the accompanying entertainment will include studio tours has encouraged many retailers to attend. One supermarket executive who did not want to be identified said the Los Angeles location was a big factor in his decision to attend. But others said they're going because it offers one of the most comprehensive programs for the video industry.

"There's lots of opportunity to look at long-range planning," said Tony Federico, vice president of nonfoods at Asheville, N.C.-based Ingles Supermarkets, who will attend the VSDA show for the first time. "I have a feeling there will be a better mix of studio executives at this show because most of them live in Los Angeles."

One retailer said that while the VSDA show is important, he doesn't have any great expectations.

"Everything that's happening is already common knowledge," he said. "I don't expect anything new or special to come out of the VSDA show."

Few retailers interviewed said they planned to attend the E3 show or the East Coast Video Show, slated to begin Oct. 15 in Atlantic City, N.J.