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Center Stage at SPECS


Chain Store Age traveled west to Las Vegas for its 51st annual SPECS conference, which was held at the Sands Expo at the Venetian/Palazzo. The event brought together retail executives, architects, suppliers and other industry professionals involved in store design/ planning, construction and facility management for three days of learning and networking.

Keynote speakers this year included political power couple James Carville and Mary Matalin, who delivered insightful commentary regarding the upcoming presidential elections and other current happenings, and economist, author and former CNBC host Larry Kudlow, who said the collapse of oil prices was good news nearly for everyone, including retailers. “Nearly everyone benefits from lower, cheaper fuel,” Kudlow said. “It’s good for growth.”

SESSIONS: The educational program of the show featured more than 25 individual workshop sessions, with content aimed at giving attendees a competitive advantage now and in the future. A broad array of topics was covered, from water conservation and updates to California’s Title 24 energy code to Wal-Mart’s deployment of LEDs and ADA compliance. In addition, the increasingly important role that technology plays in store development was highlighted in several sessions, and by speakers from Google and Hointer, a Seattle-based retailer that combines the best of offline and online retail in the physical space.

NETWORKING: SPECS is designed to facilitate business partnering. In addition to networking on the show floor and at the workshop sessions, attendees came together for meals and evening receptions. There were also one-on-one meetings during the annual Face-to-Face Information Exchange, which provided an ideal opportunity for retailers to discuss their specific business objectives with suppliers in a time-efficient manner.

Next year, SPECS returns to the Lone Star State. The 52nd annual SPECS conference will be March 13-15, 2016, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Updates will be posted on

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