by Abe Sherman

Given the current political contest, it’s too easy to think I am borrowing this over-used cliché tongue-in-cheek for the title of this newsletter. It has become all but impossible to ignore the tone of the rhetoric and, more interestingly, to see how the two political parties have been, in effect, hijacked by two self-described “outsiders”.

In much the same way we like to drill-down into data to understand the underlying reasons cash flow sucks, for example, I’ve been following the phenomena of Trump and Sanders. Our nation’s politics often has people running along the fringes at the beginning of a presidential race, but there is something else going on this time around – an unsettled population looking for answers, expecting our country’s leaders to work together and get their jobs done – whatever the jobs of those elected may be.

But, the two sides are not working together.  There is divisiveness at the highest levels of government and a climate more akin to an MMA match than a functioning government: Game of Thrones meets House of Cards.  Cue the lions.

As a company, BIG can’t do anything about the mood of the country but we can do something about the mood of our industry. We can take the opposite approach from what we are witnessing in our failing political climate. We can bring the two parties together to benefit each, equally. The good news is we are seeing results. The brands that have embraced working with retailer’s data have evolved their presentations and expectations and we’re getting calls from retailers and vendors alike telling us that  participating in the BIG Network has had an enormous impact on their relationships in a very short period of time.In short, collaboration works.

It is with collaboration in mind that we settled on a theme for the upcoming Vegas shows: Let’s Make Our Industry Great Again. This isn’t a political statement and I’m in no way supporting Mr. Trump’s brand of propaganda, but we are ina tough business climate and we are witnessing the ramping up of our industry ramping down –this is going to be a significantly smaller industry. While it’s true that thousands of doors are closing it was not unexpected; we saw this coming years ago. And, it’s fine. Fewer doors means bigger slices of the marketplace for those who remain. However, the remaining retailers are going to have to work closer with the remaining manufacturers and brands and that is where we come in.

We’re looking to you to open the dialog with your suppliers – to commit to supply real-time information and keep their inventory turning while being in a position of being able to pay your bills on time.

We’re looking to them to bring in the best assortments based on your budget and work on taking back inventory that doesn’t perform well in your store.

The key to this is collaboration and communication.

I’m asking you to encourage your suppliers to participate in the BIG Network, to turn on your permissions with your vendors and to share data with them; to reorder your fast-sellers and to create an inventory budget that promotes healthy cashflow. To work with them, as we expect our elected officials to work across the aisle.

And when you get to Vegas, stop by our booth at CBG or JCK (we have a new location in the lobby area this year, L123) and pick up your very own Make Our Industry Great Again hat, while supplies last.