IGA At The NGA Show: Your Full Recap

Mar 3, 2022

Earlier this week, independent grocers, wholesalers, and industry partners gathered at Caesars Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada for The NGA Show, a three-day conference with over 50 education sessions and 100 speakers discussing issues facing food retail today. 

The Independent Grocers Alliance co-located with NGA for the event, integrating our programming designed to help all independents stay competitive in their changing marketplace, better serve shoppers, and increase sales. "Now more than ever, our retailers and store teams are extremely busy," IGA CEO John Ross said. "By integrating the IGA event into the NGA Show, we were able to provide a one-stop-shop for all the networking, insights, and resources an independent needs to compete and win." 

During the Opening Session, NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara recognized NGA’s 40th anniversary taking place this year, and delivered a message of looking forward. “We have heard from many of you about the challenges and pressures you continue to face, including wrinkles in the supply chain and an acute labor shortage, and how you have partnered with NGA to find support and solutions. But that has not stopped you from maintaining a vision for the future—always forward-looking— always planning how you can best support your teams, strengthen your businesses and enrich your communities,” he said. “Perhaps the most important part of your future is your people, which is why it’s so crucial to invest in them, to nurture them, to empower them as the next generation of leaders of our industry.”

The day closed with the Opening Keynote address by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who discussed the country’s economic and political landscape, and its potential impact on independent community grocery operators.

Greg Ferrara, Chris Christie, John Ross(L to R) NGA's Greg Ferrara, Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, IGA's John Ross

The Independent Grocers Alliance hosted their Opening After Party for IGA members and industry partners, offering live entertainment, food stations and open bar, and whiskey tastings courtesy of Maker's Mark and Beam Suntory/American Brands. Nick Carlino from MDI and Eric Green from OneRail won the collector's edition whiskey giveaway. 

whiskey winners(L to R) Maker's Mark's Johnny Mundell, MDI's Nick Carlino, OneRail's Eric Green

On Monday, February 28, the education sessions launched in full force and the exhibition hall opened, giving guests the opportunity to discover innovative strategies and programs to help independents compete in the new landscape. 

Stephanie Stuckey, CEO of Stuckey's Corporation, the roadside chain best known for its pecan log rolls, delivered a general session titled, "On Common Ground: The Untold Story of How Women Helped Build Stuckey’s." Throughout the presentation, Stuckey detailed how women, including her grandmother, were the secret ingredient for her company’s success and how businesses can better involve women in their growth and success.

Independent Grocers Alliance CEO John Ross presented a general session keynote titled, "Don’t Be A Victim To Inflation: Simple Strategies To Maintain Price Authority, Increase Sales, And Drive Shopper Loyalty," that delivered tactics to help retailers keep their margins and stay competitive against the chains using differentiation through values-based marketing.

Catch Stuckey's and Ross' presentations in the video below and register for IGA's free webinar on Tuesday, March 8 that will go into greater detail on inflation and strategies independents can use to drive sales and shopper loyalty.

Stephanie Stuckey and John Ross

In addition to Ross' keynote, the Independent Grocers Alliance sponsored education sessions on topics that included:

  • Revitalizing competitive strategy through marketplace analytics
  • Optimizing center store sales
  • Combining grocery and hardware for success

Women Grocers of America (WGA) presented the WGA Woman of the Year Award to Suzanne Schmitz, who owns five Save A Lot stores across New York. Schmitz oversees operations, inventory management and hours of operation for her stores. She manages a team of more than 70 employees, staying involved in the needs and intricacies of the stores to be successful.

The day ended with the Best Bagger Competition, with Alexa Sobsey of California's Nugget Markets taking home the top prize. An executive round pitted independent grocery’s c-suite leaders against each other in a checkout lane showdown, with contestants including IGA's own Nisha Patel, managing director of Mt. Plymouth IGA Fresh Market in Sorrento, Florida.

Nisha PatelMt. Plymouth IGA Fresh Market's Managing Director Nisha Patel at the Best Bagger Competition

Tuesday, March 2 began with the Creative Choice Awards breakfast, which saw LaBonne's Market IGA win the local, specialty, or emerging products award in the merchandising category for their Luke, I am your Fascia ice cream partnership with The Big Dipper Ice Cream Parlor and Fascia's Chocolates. Watch their video below, and find the full list of winners here.

LaBonne's Luke, I am your Fascia video

After the breakfast, education sessions began, with the Independent Grocers Alliance sponsoring sessions that offered valuable insights on these topics: 

  • How media analysis and digital tools can help stores save money and increase sales
  • Cyber security protection for independent retailers
  • Sustainable grocery practices that save money
IGA at NGA 1200The Independent Grocers Alliance booth on the expo floor.

At the end of the three-day event, over 2,700 independent retailers, wholesalers, food retail industry executives, food/CPG manufacturers, and service providers joined together for a successful end to the 39th edition of the annual trade show and conference.

“The NGA Show, co-located with the IGA Rally and Indoor Ag-Con, delivered a trifecta of education, best practices and actionable insights designed to help independent grocery operators propel their businesses into a future of growth and continued opportunity,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO. “With strong retailer and wholesaler attendance, we intend to build upon the momentum of a successful show and the occasion of NGA’s 40th anniversary this year as we work toward an even more exciting conference back here in Las Vegas in 2023.”

Remembering Dr. Tom Haggai, IGA Chairman EmeritusOn the expo floor, the Independent Grocers Alliance honored Dr. Tom Haggai for his dedication to IGA and the independent industry. 

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