Two Weeks in Vegas

Since our last issue, I’ve spent two weeks in Las Vegas, one for the 25th Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show, the other for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Convention and Exposition. I’m exhausted yet energized!

One thing I love about the Nightclub & Bar Show is its complete lack of pretentiousness. The Show floor is almost raucous, the booths are vibrant — there’s a carnival feel — and the products are varied, to say the least. Attire ranges from jeans and biker boots to suits and ties, worn with equal comfort by both exhibitors and attendees, who are often engaged in rapt conversations. Best of all, there’s no drink snobbery going on — no folks tasting and one-upping each other with descriptive verbiage. In fact, the snippets of conversations you hear between exhibitors and attendees always involve how to grow the bar business. Of course, there’s usually some casual conversation and often humorous exchanges, but these folks get down to brass tacks rather quickly: What are you selling, how good is it and will it grow my business? From your feedback, plenty of you came away from The Show with great answers to those questions.

The best part of The Show this year was that among all the glitz and glitter of Vegas, it stayed true to its roots of being the bar show for operators large and small. No pretense, just business-building ideas and products (see coverage).

A positive vibe continued at the WSWA event, where plenty of new products vied for distributor attention (see my blog). And while the group acknowledged challenges to the three-tier system, it also celebrated some victories on that front and noted the early indicators of rising consumer confidence.

As I write this, there are indeed reports that restaurant and retail sales are up for the first three months of 2010, along with job creation. We wrote more gloom-and-doom headlines last year than I care to count, but coming off two energized weeks in Vegas and seeing the recent economic indicators, I can honestly say I don’t think we’ll have too much trouble reporting on growth, innovation and success in 2010.

See you at the bar!


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