When last the private label industry gathered in Chicago, could anyone have imagined it would be three years before we would be back together? Well, that is indeed the past, and now retailers and suppliers alike are focused on 2023 as the final weeks of 2022 rapidly come to a close.
By now, many of us have likely walked at least one trade show floor this year, and there was something special and familiar about meeting companies at their booth, sampling new products and just enjoying the human interaction that went away temporarily as a result of the pandemic.
For Gen Xers such as myself, we’ve spent a lot of time in recent years learning how to utilize and take advantage of the new tools of our trade. For context, my first job as a reporter in 1994 was done without an iPhone, email or websites. I did have a landline, a computer (a Macintosh Plus) and an office fax machine. And, no, there were no Tyrannosaurs walking the planet!
The point is that person-to-person communication was how we did business. It was how I developed sources and it was how I got my best stories. Putting a face to a voice and name is still comforting and serves to build trust in one another. Over the years as mobile phones, email and other technological advances have become the norm, we’ve lost a bit of the personal touch that is still needed to conduct business.
The up-and-coming editors I’ve worked with in recent years have thrown a few eye-rolls my way when I would encourage them to actually use their smartphones as phones. But over time, they did come to understand that a phone conversation does yield a great deal of information. Emails and text messages are great, but if you want to find out what’s really going on, talk to someone. And with more than 1,300 exhibitors booked for booth space, there will be many conversations happening at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in the Windy City.
That’s good news for retailers, suppliers and our friends at PLMA. And next year, it will be good news for consumers who will be the beneficiaries of a multitude of new products. That’s good for everyone!