ABA Heads to New England & the Midwest

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The American Booksellers Association will be hosting a Booksellers Forum and Education Program in conjunction with two regional booksellers associations -- the New England Booksellers Association (NEBA) and the Midwest Booksellers Association (MBA, formerly UMBA) -- on March 8 and March 12, respectively. ABA and the regional associations invite all area booksellers to attend the events, which feature some things new and different in addition to the education programming and booksellers forums that attendees have come to expect.

NEW ENGLAND

The ABA/NEBA Forum and Education Program will be held on Tuesday, March 8, from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. in Shelton, Connecticut. Booksellers are invited to new member bookstore Center Stage on Center Street: Books, Beans, and Broadway in Shelton, Connecticut, for a day-long program that will include a free lunch. Center Stage Books features a 75-seat theater as well as instruction rooms for its in-house theater program.

The program will begin at 10:00 a.m. with a two-hour education session titled "Increasing Sales." This nuts and bolts session will focus on strategies for improving a store's profitability -- the differential between revenue and expenses. Discussed will be strategies for bringing more customers into the store, including the use of co-op, websites, and e-mail; selling more to customers once they're through the door; and increasing sales outside the store. Lunch will follow from noon - 12:30 p.m.

From 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m., the ABA Booksellers Forum provides an opportunity to ask questions, express opinions, and hear from bookseller colleagues. Over the years, these forums have provided vital member input to help shape future ABA programs and initiatives. ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz, COO Oren Teicher, BookSense.com Director Len Vlahos, Associate Director of Programming and Constituent Groups Liaison Kristen Gilligan, and ABA Board member Suzy Staubach of UConn Co-op in Storrs, Connecticut will be present.

An ABACUS Workshop will be held from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Members who bring their fiscal 2004 financial statements will receive one-on-one help in completing the 2005 ABACUS survey and will get a coupon for $50 off their next ABA dues renewal. The ABACUS study is helping all independent booksellers by establishing a standard against which individual financial results can be measured.

Center Stage Books is located at 100 Center Street in Shelton. [(203) 924-2622 and on the web at www.centerstageshelton.homestead.com].

To help ABA finalize arrangements, booksellers planning to attend are asked to RSVP to Kristen Gilligan at [email protected]. For more information about NEBA, visit www.newenglandbooks.org, or contact NEBA Executive Director Rusty Drugan at (800) 466-8711 or [email protected].

Booksellers unable to attend the forum in Shelton may wish to attend an additional NEBA forum/educational program in Portland, Maine, on April 20. Watch for details in an upcoming edition of BTW.

MIDWEST

The ABA/MBA Booksellers Forum and Education Program will be held on Saturday, March 12, from 11:45 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bloomington, Minnesota. A free lunch is included.

The morning education session, sponsored by MBA, will run from 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. "The Human Resources/Benefits Input & Planning Session" is designed for independent store staff who may have no formal background in HR, but must manage personnel issues and benefit programs. Aimed at both owners and staff, the session will discuss resources needed to deal with issues such as rising healthcare costs, HR compliance requirements, and employee benefits on a limited budget. Facilitators Peg Hill and Joan Cole of Schwarz Williams Companies, Inc., in Minneapolis are developing programs and resources for bookstores. Schwarz Williams is a full-service HR and employee benefits consultant and broker, whose services are accessible to MBA through its membership in the Midwest Society of Association Executives. MBA plans to offer more extensive HR education programming at the MBA Trade Show this September.

From 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. will be the ABA's "It's in the Payroll." Historically, a two percent profit (net before tax) for bookstores was acceptable. With the dramatic slip in profits over the years, the average bookstore today shows a pre-tax net loss. Payroll, the single largest expense for bookstores, is difficult for booksellers to handle successfully. Starting from an examination of what is included in the payroll line (total compensation), to providing practical, usable tools for budgeting, scheduling, and controlling payroll, this seminar will provide invaluable tools and information to booksellers, regardless of the size of their store.

Jointly sponsored by ABA and MBA, the Booksellers Forum will be held from 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions, express opinions, and hear from bookseller colleagues. Over the years, these forums have provided vital member input to help shape future ABA programs and initiatives. ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz, COO Oren Teicher, and MBA Executive Director Susan Walker will be present.

From 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. will be the ABA's ABACUS Workshop. Members who bring their fiscal 2004 financial statements will receive one-on-one help in completing the 2005 ABACUS survey and will get a coupon for $50 off their next ABA dues renewal. The ABACUS study is helping all independent booksellers by establishing a standard against which individual financial results can be measured.

A cocktail reception, co-sponsored by ABA and MBA, will provide valuable networking time with ABA and MBA staff and bookseller colleagues. There will be hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar.

All events will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn at 5140 American Boulevard W. in Bloomington [(952) 831-1012 or (800)-HILTONS].

Booksellers planning to attend are asked to RSVP to the MBA office by Monday, February 28, to aid in the preparation of space and refreshments. RSVP by e-mail to [email protected] or call (800) 784-7522. For more info about MBA, visit www.abookaday.com. For ABA information, contact Kristen Gilligan at [email protected] or (800) 637-0037, ext. 1286.

Booksellers unable to make the Bloomington program may wish to attend an ABA/MBA forum and education program in Kansas City, Missouri, on April 16. Watch for details in an upcoming edition of BTW.

From March 11 - 15, the Minneapolis Gift Mart (UMAGA) is hosting its annual Spring Gift Show, with exhibits at both the Gift Mart showrooms at the Sheraton Hotel (formerly Radisson Hotel South) in Bloomington and in Minnetonka. Only UMAGA members may attend the Gift Show. For information, go to www.mplsgiftmart.com or call (800) 626-1298. Booksellers can also register on site at the Gift Mart or Sheraton. Business ID is required.