Halloween & Party Expo had an EXPANDED 4-DAY EXPERIENCE with the Independent Retailer Conference at our 2017 event. If you are looking to gain insight, inspiration, and information to bring back to your store, this is an experience you never want to miss. Looking forward to 2018 already!

Quick Links: About | Meet the Experts | Conference Schedule

Independent Retailer Conference

Booth #TBD

ENGAGE, LEARN & CONNECT with some of today's top retail thought leaders and industry experts.

 

Dedicated entirely to the unique lifestyle and responsibilities of independent store owners, the Independent Retailer Conference aims to support both online and offline retailers in gaining expert news, education, and support through a variety of educational sessions from top retail thought leaders and experts—all with the core focus of helping you run your retail business more successfully.

Held directly on the exhibit floor of the Halloween & Party Expo, this event feature offers attendees:

  • Quick, 15-minute pop-up sessions that help to balance retail education with time spent with exhibitors on the floor
  • Access to experts to ENGAGE, LEARN & CONNECT with—it's as if you have your own personal consultants on hand to help with your unique business!
  • A daily Power Hour, offering an in-depth look at today's hottest retail topics

Meet the Experts

Paul Erickson, RMSA

Paul Erickson presently serves as Senior Vice-President of RMSA. Based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota he has served retail clients throughout the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Widely recognized for his talents as a retail educator, Mr. Erickson has conducted seminars and workshops to such groups as National Shoe Retailers Association, FN Platform, Outdoor Retailer, New Balance Athletic Shoes, MAGIC, SE Asia TERRY S.A. Retail Symposium in Manila, Philippines and The Global Retail Conference in Barcelona, Spain. He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, Women’s Wear Daily and on the CBS Evening News.

 

Mr. Erickson received a BS in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin and has completed a number of graduate level courses in Data Analysis and Statistical Theory and Probability.

Tyler Bryant, Square

 

 

 

Genna Gold, Yelp

Genna Gold is the Manager of Business Outreach at Yelp. She hosts informational sessions with local business owners across North America and runs Yelp's trade show program to educate them on best practices for navigating the world of online reviews. She works with local business owners interested in utilizing Yelp to help grow their business. She also hosts a series of webinars on subjects relevant to business owners and regularly contributes content to Yelp's "Blog for Business Owners." Genna also acts as a liaison between the small business community and the different divisions within Yelp.

 

Prior to joining Yelp in 2014, Genna worked for TripAdvisor with business owners across the world to help them get the most out of their online presence. She was born in Pittsburgh and has lived in Illinois, Connecticut, Ohio, Vancouver, Spain, Boston and now New York City. She grew up in the hospitality industry and loves meeting and helping small business owners everywhere.

Brian Gibbs, Refund Retriever

Refund Retriever was founded by Brian in 2006 while running his first eBay based business and seeing the shortcomings of other shipment auditing companies. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2001 he then graduated from the University of Houston in 2004 with a JD and MBA. Today Refund Retriever a leader in auditing UPS & FedEx invoices for late packages, billing mistakes, and provides a variety of logistics reports.

 

Tim Bildstein, SellerActive

Tim Bildstein is a Senior Sales Consultant for SellerActive. He is a true e-commerce veteran from the ground up, growing his own business and others from start-ups to multi-million dollar online businesses. Tim received his degree in Finance, from Sonoma State University in 2008 and has spent the last 9 years working within the financial and e-commerce industries. He is a member of the Civics Committee for the Emerging Professionals of Portland, along with the Internet Merchants Association. His main focus is to research, analyze, and recommend different selling strategies that leverage the latest in e-commerce technology.

 

Zeke Jennings, Party & Paper Retailer

Zeke Jennings joined Party & Paper Retailer in December 2014 as the managing editor. In addition to retail, he previously covered arts, business, entertainment and dining for MLive Media Group, the largest media organization in Michigan. For more on Party & Paper Retailer, visit partypaper.com, Facebook.com/PartyPaperRetailer and Twitter @PartyPaper.

 

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender Speaking

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER made Meetings & Conventions Magazine’s list of Meeting Planners Favorite Keynote Speakers; they’ve also been named “Two of Retailing’s Most Influential People.” And with good reason: Rich and Georganne are experts on generational diversity, consumer trends, marketing and promotion, and everything retail.

 

They are widely referred to as consumer anthropologists because they stalk and study that most elusive of mammals: today’s consumer. KIZER & BENDER are well known for their unique and intensive consumer research. Any speaker can talk about customers, but Georganne and Rich actually become them. In addition to yearly focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine; and maybe even a few that you can’t. The results of their research is literally straight from the customers’ mouth: solid ground level intelligence you can use to better serve your own customers. KIZER & BENDER’s presentations blend brilliant content with colorful examples, humor and insight. You’ll learn while you laugh! And you’ll come away with inspiration, strategies, tactics, tips and techniques you can use the second you return to your business!

Conference Schedule

Jump to: Saturday, January 14th | Sunday, January 15th | Monday, January 16th | Tuesday, January 17th

Saturday, January 14th
10:00 – 10:15 | Social Media Moment: Hashtags 101

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender Speaking
You’ve seen hashtags—#—all over social medias, but do you know how to use them? Hashtags are an extension of your brand, allowing you to reach far beyond your fans and followers. Join KIZER & BENDER and learn how to use hashtags like a pro!

10:30 – 10:45 | Shipping Delivery Guarantees & How YOU Can Save Money

Brian Gibbs, Founder, Refund Retriever
Did you know each and every FedEx and UPS package you send is guaranteed to arrive on time or it's free? Do you know which part of your logistics invoice you can dispute? Join Refund Retriever and learn how to save money on your shipping by getting refunds... for real! You’ll learn ways to save money and make your shipping needs more efficient!

11:00 – 11:15 | How to Get Customers to Rave About You Online

Genna Gold, Manager of Local Business Outreach, Yelp
There’s no question that receiving a positive online review gives you the stamp of approval you need, especially when 92% of consumers are turning to the internet to find local businesses. In this presentation you'll learn how to effectively market your business both online and offline to generate the positive buzz you desire.

11:30 – 11:45 | The Psychology of Price (The Mark Up and Markdown Game)

Paul Erickson, Senior Vice President, RMSA
How much product is marked up initially directly affects how profitable your retail business can be. Many retailers swear by tried and true mark up models, but it is a good practice for any retailer to constantly review current pricing practices to find areas for improvement. This session will demonstrate the benefits of different competitive pricing strategies that you can begin implementing in your store immediately. You’ll discover the three elements that initial markup must satisfy to achieve your profit goals, learn how to effectively use pricing psychology to increase markup and uncover how cost based pricing can limit your profit potential. Before you price your next batch of inventory, you’ll want to know this information!

12:00 – 1:00 | Digital in Diapers: Marketing to the Millennials and Generation Z

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender Speaking
Welcome to the age of the NEW consumer, a younger consumer who demands to be taken seriously; a consumer who knows their way around social media and isn't afraid to use it to their advantage. You'll meet the Millennials and Generation Z and learn how they are changing how we do business. You'll learn strategies to help you understand their personalities, things that motivate them, and most importantly, what's required to connect with them in-store and online.

1:15 – 1:30 | Understanding Automation & Multi-Channel Selling Opportunities

Tim Bildstein is a Senior Sales Consultant for SellerActive
Want to save time? Want to increase productivity? Want to strengthen multi-channel sales? Gain insight on repricing, FBA, drop shipping and more in this 15 minute power session that will give you the tools you need to know about in order to incorporate automation into your business... all while saving time and strengthening sales options.

1:45 – 2:00 | How to Get Customers to Rave About You Online

Genna Gold, Manager of Local Business Outreach, Yelp
There’s no question that receiving a positive online review gives you the stamp of approval you need, especially when 92% of consumers are turning to the internet to find local businesses. In this presentation you'll learn how to effectively market your business both online and offline to generate the positive buzz you desire.

2:15 – 2:30 | Growing Your Business With a Loan Through Square Capital

Tyler Bryant, Local Marketing, Square
Accessing capital as a small business can be challenging. Square Capital wants to end the lengthy application process and long waiting periods for approval and funding, and help get capital into the hands of businesses that need it quickly, efficiently, and with terms that are both flexible and straightforward. Over $1 billion has been extended to more than 100,000 sellers through Square Capital, giving them quick access to funding to meet their business needs — whether to purchase inventory, open a new location, launch a new product, buy equipment and more. In this session, learn how you may be able to grow your business with a loan via Square Capital - as well as better understand if a loan is right for you.

2:45 – 3:00 | 5 Ways to Enhance Your In-Store Shopping Experience

Zeke Jennings, Managing Editor, Party & Paper Retailer
An interactive in-store shopping experience is a major way independent retailers can differentiate themselves from their big-box and online competitors. Party & Paper Retailer editor Zeke Jennings will offer ideas on how to keep customers coming back by creating a shopping experience they can’t get anywhere else.

3:15 – 3:30 | Inventory is Your Retail Heart, Is It Healthy?

Paul Erikson, Senior Vice President, RMSA
Inventory is the heart of your business. How healthy is your heart? While we all think we are familiar with the basics of inventory management, do we see all of the connections between SKUs and financial analysis? Starting with the basics, Paul will share alternative concepts, techniques, and formulas to improve inventory turnover, cash flow, revenue growth and gross margin. The presentation teaches from experience – not theory. Learn specific techniques to control your inventory, increase your margins, improve your stock sell through and start making more money now.

3:45 – 4:00 | How to Get Customers to Rave About you Online

Genna Gold, Manager of Local Business Outreach, Yelp
There’s no question that receiving a positive online review gives you the stamp of approval you need, especially when 92% of consumers are turning to the internet to find local businesses. In this presentation you'll learn how to effectively market your business both online and offline to generate the positive buzz you desire.

Jump to: Saturday, January 14th | Sunday, January 15th | Monday, January 16th | Tuesday, January 17th

Sunday, January 15th
10:00 – 10:15 | Social Media Moment: Social Media Must-Dos

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender Speaking
Do you have a social media plan for reaching customers? “I’ll post on Facebook when I have time…” is not a plan! This session will share the must-dos every marketer needs to follow—regardless of social medias—to connect with fans and followers.

10:30 – 10:45 | Understanding Automation & Multi-Channel Selling Opportunities

Tim Bildstein is a Senior Sales Consultant for SellerActive
Want to save time? Want to increase productivity? Want to strengthen multi-channel sales? Gain insight on repricing, FBA, drop shipping and more in this 15 minute power session that will give you the tools you need to know about in order to incorporate automation into your business... all while saving time and strengthening sales options.

11:00 – 11:15 | Shipping Delivery Guarantees & How YOU Can Save Money

Brian Gibbs, Founder, Refund Retriever
Did you know each and every FedEx and UPS package you send is guaranteed to arrive on time or it's free? Do you know which part of your logistics invoice you can dispute? Join Refund Retriever and learn how to save money on your shipping by getting refunds... for real! You’ll learn ways to save money and make your shipping needs more efficient!

11:30 – 11:45 | How to Get Customers to Rave About You Online

Genna Gold, Manager of Local Business Outreach, Yelp
There’s no question that receiving a positive online review gives you the stamp of approval you need, especially when 92% of consumers are turning to the internet to find local businesses. In this presentation you'll learn how to effectively market your business both online and offline to generate the positive buzz you desire.

12:00 – 1:00 | The Science of Shopping: How to Set Your Sales Floor to Sell!

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender Speaking
Have you gone to a store to purchase a single item, but walked out with a bag full of things you hadn’t intended to buy? Congratulations! You’re a savvy retailer and yet you still fell victim to the science of shopping. Join consumer anthropologists Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender for the latest in store layout, visual merchandising, and tricks of the trade to increase your “shelf esteem” – and store sales. You’ll learn: How your allocation of space, layout, design, and merchandise presentation all work together to form a perfect storm of buying opportunity, plus where to display high demand product, everyday basics, and impulse items, which types of signing to use on your sales floor, visual merchandising strategies that sell, why you need to embrace sensory merchandising, AND MORE!

1:15 – 1:30 | Payment Trends for 2017

Tyler Bryant, Local Marketing, Square
On October 1st of 2015, the United States made the switch from using the Magstripe on a credit card to EMV - also known as the Chip. Additionally, the adoption of NFC (Near Frequency Communication) Payments has become more popular among merchants and consumers alike, allowing retailers to accept Contactless Payments at their businesses while customers never having to remove their wallets. Both forms of payments are the most secure way to process a credit, the future of payments, and absolutely necessary for all businesses.

1:45 – 2:00 | Inventory is Your Retail Heart… Is It Healthy?

Paul Erickson, Senior Vice President, RMSA
Inventory is the heart of your business. How healthy is your heart? While we all think we are familiar with the basics of inventory management, do we see all of the connections between SKUs and financial analysis? Starting with the basics, Paul will share alternative concepts, techniques, and formulas to improve inventory turnover, cash flow, revenue growth and gross margin. The presentation teaches from experience – not theory. Learn specific techniques to control your inventory, increase your margins, improve your stock sell through and start making more money now.

2:15 – 2:30 | Understanding Automation & Multi-Channel Selling Opportunities

Tim Bildstein is a Senior Sales Consultant for SellerActive
Want to save time? Want to increase productivity? Want to strengthen multi-channel sales? Gain insight on repricing, FBA, drop shipping and more in this 15 minute power session that will give you the tools you need to know about in order to incorporate automation into your business... all while saving time and strengthening sales options.

2:45 – 3:00 | Shipping Contract Negotiation Tips

Brian Gibbs, Founder, Refund Retriever
Have you ever gone into a negotiation and wished you had the same information at your fingertips that FedEx or UPS brings to the table? This session will share which fees are negotiable, plus how to negotiate a better rate on your shipping. As a small business, there are details you need to know about that you may not be aware of… Join Refund Retriever and learn how to benchmark your rates to similar sized clients.

3:15 – 3:30 | Keep Your Customers Coming Back Through Customer Engagement

Tyler Bryant, Local Marketing, Square
Staying connected with your customers is one of the most valuable tools you can have in place as a business owner. With Square's new Customer Engagement features, you can quickly send powerful marketing campaigns, respond to feedback from your customers in real-time, and run your very own customizable loyalty program. Learn how this can help you strengthen your business operations, as well as gain insight on how Square's Customer Engagement may be right for your business.

3:45 - 4:00 | How to Get Customers to Rave About You Online

Genna Gold, Manager of Local Business Outreach, Yelp
There’s no question that receiving a positive online review gives you the stamp of approval you need, especially when 92% of consumers are turning to the internet to find local businesses. In this presentation you'll learn how to effectively market your business both online and offline to generate the positive buzz you desire.

Jump to: Saturday, January 14th | Sunday, January 15th | Monday, January 16th | Tuesday, January 17th

Monday, January 16th
10:00 – 10:15 | Social Media Moment: Indie Retailers Who Own Social Media

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender Speaking
Learn how the successful retailers use social medias to build relationships, connect with customers, engage in conversation, and influence purchases. It’s not always about deep pockets!

10:30 – 10:45 | Improving your Cash Flow for Seasonal Retail

Paul Erikson, Senior Vice President, RMSA
The old saying that “Cash is King” couldn’t be more true than it is today. Join Paul as he goes through a step by step process on how to improve your cash flow and increase top line sales for seasonal retail business. The presentation includes: 1. Using your POS system more effectively 2. Markdown strategies that will improve cash flow AND profits 3. How to increase your stock sell through 4. Better planning and forecasting to prevent overbuying and finally, this presentation teaches from experience --- not theory. Learn specific techniques to improve your cash flow now.

11:00 – 11:15 | Growing Your Business With a Loan Through Square Capital

Tyler Bryant, Local Marketing, Square
Accessing capital as a small business can be challenging. Square Capital wants to end the lengthy application process and long waiting periods for approval and funding, and help get capital into the hands of businesses that need it quickly, efficiently, and with terms that are both flexible and straightforward. Over $1 billion has been extended to more than 100,000 sellers through Square Capital, giving them quick access to funding to meet their business needs — whether to purchase inventory, open a new location, launch a new product, buy equipment and more. In this session, learn how you may be able to grow your business with a loan via Square Capital - as well as better understand if a loan is right for you.

11:30 – 11:45 | How to Get Customers to Rave About You Online

Genna Gold, Manager of Local Business Outreach, Yelp
There’s no question that receiving a positive online review gives you the stamp of approval you need, especially when 92% of consumers are turning to the internet to find local businesses. In this presentation you'll learn how to effectively market your business both online and offline to generate the positive buzz you desire.

12:00 – 1:00 | The Crackle FactorTM: Taking Your Store Off Auto-Pilot!

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender Speaking
It’s time to turn off the auto-pilot and make your sales floor crackle again! There is something missing in the customer experience these days. Too many stores look and feel the same: Stale, uninspired, and staffed with people who look like they’d much rather be somewhere else. Now, you might read this and think, “Not MY store!”, but what if your perception is wrong? How your customers view your store is what really counts! Join KIZER & BENDER and learn what successful retailers do to create unique customer experiences. You’ll leave armed with enough crackling ideas to thrill your customers and leave your competition in the dust!

1:15 – 1:30 | The Psychology of Price (The Mark Up and Markdown Game)

Paul Erikson, Senior Vice President, RMSA
How much product is marked up initially directly affects how profitable your retail business can be. Many retailers swear by tried and true mark up models, but it is a good practice for any retailer to constantly review current pricing practices to find areas for improvement. This session will demonstrate the benefits of different competitive pricing strategies that you can begin implementing in your store immediately. You’ll discover the three elements that initial markup must satisfy to achieve your profit goals, learn how to effectively use pricing psychology to increase markup and uncover how cost based pricing can limit your profit potential. Before you price your next batch of inventory, you’ll want to know this information!

1:45 – 2:00 | Understanding Automation & Multi-Channel Selling Opportunities

Tim Bildstein, Senior Sales Consultant, SellerActive
Want to save time? Want to increase productivity? Want to strengthen multi-channel sales? Gain insight on repricing, FBA, drop shipping and more in this 15 minute power session that will give you the tools you need to know about in order to incorporate automation into your business... all while saving time and strengthening sales options.

2:15 – 2:30 | How to Reduce Your UPS & FedEx Shipping Costs

Brian Gibbs, Founder, Refund Retriever
There are more ways to reduce your shipping costs than just getting a lower overall rate. This session will teach you how to optimize your shipping procedures and reduce inefficiencies. You’ll learn how to save money as well as how to operate your business more efficiently.

2:45 – 3:00 | Payment Trends for 2017

Tyler Bryant, Local Marketing, Square
On October 1st of 2015, the United States made the switch from using the Magstripe on a credit card to EMV - also known as the Chip. Additionally, the adoption of NFC (Near Frequency Communication) Payments has become more popular among merchants and consumers alike, allowing retailers to accept Contactless Payments at their businesses while customers never having to remove their wallets. Both forms of payments are the most secure way to process a credit, the future of payments, and absolutely necessary for all businesses to accept. This is a session you can't afford to miss!

3:15 – 3:30 | Understanding Automation & Multi-Channel Selling Opportunities

Tim Bildstein is a Senior Sales Consultant for SellerActive
Want to save time? Want to increase productivity? Want to strengthen multi-channel sales? Gain insight on repricing, FBA, drop shipping and more in this 15 minute power session that will give you the tools you need to know about in order to incorporate automation into your business... all while saving time and strengthening sales options.

3:45 - 4:00 | How to Get Customers to Rave About You Online

Genna Gold, Manager of Local Business Outreach, Yelp
There’s no question that receiving a positive online review gives you the stamp of approval you need, especially when 92% of consumers are turning to the internet to find local businesses. In this presentation you'll learn how to effectively market your business both online and offline to generate the positive buzz you desire.

Jump to: Saturday, January 14th | Sunday, January 15th | Monday, January 16th | Tuesday, January 17th

Tuesday, January 17th
10:00 – 10:15 | Social Media Moment: 15 Minutes on Facebook

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender Speaking
Facebook isn’t dead, you’re just not doing it right! Join KIZER & BENDER and learn quick tips and techniques to make your business page a standout on Facebook.

10:30 – 10:45 | How to Get Customers to Rave About You Online

Genna Gold, Manager of Local Business Outreach, Yelp
There’s no question that receiving a positive online review gives you the stamp of approval you need, especially when 92% of consumers are turning to the internet to find local businesses. In this presentation you'll learn how to effectively market your business both online and offline to generate the positive buzz you desire.

11:00 – 11:15 | Keep Your Customers Coming Back Through Customer Engagement

Tyler Bryant, Local Marketing, Square
Staying connected with your customers is one of the most valuable tools you can have in place as a business owner. With Square's new Customer Engagement features, you can quickly send powerful marketing campaigns, respond to feedback from your customers in real-time, and run your very own customizable loyalty program. Learn how this can help you strengthen your business operations, as well as gain insight on how Square's Customer Engagement may be right for your business.

11:30 – 11:45 |How to Reduce Your UPS & FedEx Shipping Costs

Brian Gibbs, Founder, Refund Retriever
There are more ways to reduce your shipping costs than just getting a lower overall rate. This session will teach you how to optimize your shipping procedures and reduce inefficiencies. You’ll learn how to save money as well as how to operate your business more efficiently.

12:00 – 1:00 | Neutralizing Your Competition: How to Stand Tall in a Crowd of Competitors

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender Speaking
It’s a competitive world out there! The leading independent retailer does something cool for customers, and pretty soon the store across town does it, too. A big box retailer adds a new service and the other chains follow suit. Pretty soon every store is doing the same things to build traffic, yet customers fail to notice. That’s because the things that were once considered “out there” have been deemed ordinary by today’s consumers. With so much sameness out there the question is this: What are you doing in your own store that makes it stand out? You’ll learn how to re-invent and refresh your customer care, your policies, and your people. This presentation just might be the inspiration – or the kick in the pants – you need to regain your passion or refocus your vision.

Jump to: Saturday, January 14th | Sunday, January 15th | Monday, January 16th | Tuesday, January 17th