Reflections From the Fall NEMOA Conference
Poor NEMOA. Last spring’s conference was overshadowed by the recent folding of BlueSky Brands, and many of its exiled execs were mulling around the Cambridge, Mass., event networking. During last week’s NEMOA in Burlington, Vt., the chill was blowing all the way up from Wall Street, as news of the market’s tumble had many attendees checking their BlackBerrys throughout the first day of the event.
But once the smoke cleared and the market surged back the next couple of days, NEMOA returned to its traditional spirit of being a warm gathering of old friends; catalog stalwarts; and a growing number of people from vendors, consulting firms and service firms.
Despite the swell of noncatalogers, many of the vendors present have been coming to NEMOA conferences for several years now and blend in quite merrily with the catalog/multichannelers. In fact, unlike any other conference on the DM show “circuit,” NEMOA stands out because people come to catch up with other attendees and schmooze. At larger conferences with exhibit halls, multichannel attendees are more reserved, less there to mingle.
My own personal take on the content of the sessions at this fall’s NEMOA is that it was considerably better than past conferences. There was considerable meat in just about every presentation. A big difference between this event and other larger conferences is that although NEMOA continues to follow the growing trend of getting vendors to sponsor all the eating and drinking functions, it never lets that wear off on the sessions. Multichannel attendees get their money’s worth.
For instance, the conference’s theme was sustainability. But all the green-themed sessions focused heavily on ways to go green (or preferably go greener) in an affordable manner.
Memorable Eddie Smith Memorial
Clearly the highlight of the conference came when NEMOA President Margot Murphy Moore, who’s also the CEO of 1-800-Homeopathy, presented a special award posthumously to National Wholesale catalog founder Eddie Smith. Eddie died a little more than a year ago at 88 of cancer. I had the fortune of knowing Eddie, meeting him at conferences over the years. He lived a very special life, and rather than going any further, I encourage you to click here for the obit that ran in The Dispatch (Lexington, N.C.) last year.