SMALL OPERATOR WILL BE RIGHT AT HOME AT ECVS

ATLANTIC CITY -- Smaller video retailers, including executives representing small supermarket video operations, will feel right at home at the East Coast Video Show here Oct. 6 to 8.This is the first East Coast show since the Video Software Dealers Association, Encino, Calif., and Advanstar Communications, Cleveland, formed a joint venture to run the summer VSDA show and the fall ECVS. Following July's

ATLANTIC CITY -- Smaller video retailers, including executives representing small supermarket video operations, will feel right at home at the East Coast Video Show here Oct. 6 to 8.

This is the first East Coast show since the Video Software Dealers Association, Encino, Calif., and Advanstar Communications, Cleveland, formed a joint venture to run the summer VSDA show and the fall ECVS. Following July's VSDA event, when independent retailers raised a serious controversy over alleged favoritism of the big specialty chains by the big studios, VSDA is making the smaller retailers' interests a focal point of ECVS.

Cathy Scott, VSDA's vice president of marketing and communications, noted the interests of independent supermarkets with video, or even of larger chains with small video programs, are much the same as the interests of the independent video specialty stores.

"All of the issues facing the independent video retailer are virtually the same as those facing supermarket video retailers," Scott told SN in an interview.

"There is real common ground between supermarket video people and the video specialty retailers," added Diane Stone, the Fairfield, Conn., group show director for Advanstar. "Supermarkets are in a similar position as independent video retailers in that, to do more business in today's marketplace, they need to be sharper and possibly go about it a little bit differently."

Because of all the new buying programs, especially on the rental side of the business, the video industry has changed radically, Scott noted. "For 10 to 18 years, the business operated on the same model, but in the last 12 months, it has been turned upside down."

By attending seminars, using networking opportunities and meeting supplier executives on the show floor, ECVS participants will have the opportunity to learn more about the new programs. "If you are renting titles, you want to know what the various plans are and how they are working for other people," said Scott.

One of the hallmarks of the show is the availability of top executives on the show floor, Stone noted.

"Anybody who attends the ECVS has a really serious opportunity to talk to the people who are supplying the product. Whether they are big studios, distributors or the independent studios, there is a real opportunity to get up close and personal with the product, which is what the supermarket video executive really wants to do," she said.

One highlight of the show for supermarkets will be a "chat room" roundtable discussion especially for the grocery class of trade. Hosted by SN, the discussion will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 2 p.m.

In the chat room, supermarket video executives will be able to exchange ideas and share experiences with others with similar responsibilities, Stone said. Within the structure of a supermarket company, the video specialist can come to feel isolated, with little in common with other executives, she said. "If you come to this event, no matter how many other people are there, the participants will have a chance to validate each other," she said.

"Video is such a niche product in a supermarket that the people who are dealing in video have everything in common with video retailers and not much in common at all with the people in other departments in their companies. Here they get the opportunity to see a lot of product and be in the midst of people who do what they do," she said.

VSDA will contribute to the seminar and business session in several ways this year, Scott said. There will be a Town Hall Meeting for independent retailers at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, and VSDA president Jeffrey P. Eves will speak at the opening business session on Tuesday, Oct. 6, on the topic "Independent Retailers: The Backbone of the Industry."

On Monday, Oct. 5, the day before the show opens, there will be a Think Tank Discussion on improving business through rental pricing, buying, advertising, promotion, staffing, debt collection and new profit centers. This will be followed by a demonstration of DVD hosted by David Goodman, president of DVD International, Mountain Lakes, N.J.

The seminars are organized into three tracks. In the Independently Thinking track: "How to Bring in New Members and Reactivate Old Members," "How to Deal with the 'Deals"' and "Alternate Ways to Compete if 'Deals' Don't Work for You."

In the Managers track: "Hiring, Recruiting, Interviewing and Orientation of New Employees," "Managing Employee Performance," "Motivation That Fires Up Employees" and "Promotion and Termination: Staff Planning."

In the Timely Topics track: "DVD for 'Rentailer': The Outlook Through the First Quarter of 1999," "Market Research," "Fun 'n' Games" and "Controlling Internal and External Theft."