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VSDA Cancels First Consumer Show

4 Apr, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik

The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) has canceled its first Tinseltown consumer show slated for May 3 and 4 in Norfolk, Va. It blamed the war in Iraq and local residents' close involvement with it via the Norfolk naval base and its proximity to the Pentagon.

“Basically, the environment in Norfolk is so wrapped up in the war effort, that we had to cancel,” said Mark Fisher, VP of membership at the VSDA who oversees the consumer shows program. VSDA leadership felt consumers would not be inclined to attend an entertainment event in this climate, he said.

Fisher did say the association still intends to move forward with the other two pilot Tinseltown events, scheduled for May 17 and 18 at the Minneapolis Convention Center and May 31 and June 1 in San Antonio at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center.

Though Fisher declined to offer any more specifics, he said the VSDA would announce details of these shows sometime next week.

The Tinseltown events are designed to bring the excitement of Hollywood to mid-sized markets and bring in much-needed revenue for the association. The VSDA continued to operate in the red through 2002, according to a summary of the March VSDA board meeting. The association has committed to adhere to a break-even budget for 2003.

Board chairman Tom Warren (who is up for reelection to the board) this week posted a message on the VSDA's discussion board seeking “the best minds in the business” to help the association come up with ideas for “new profit centers,” even as the association has cut expenses by eliminating staff and other administrative costs.

“I have appointed committees and task forces, and consulted numerous retailers, but no new vigorous and viable revenue source has emerged,” Warren said in his post. “We have substantially reduced the burn rate by eliminating staff and cutting under-utilized programs. However, cost reduction is not enough!”

Suggestions among the responses to the post included reverting the association to a chapter structure, whereby dues are split 50-50 between chapters and the national association, and the national association focuses on legislative and regulatory efforts and the local chapter maintains its own agenda and uses its finances however its members see fit. Other suggestions included information tools for product ordering that could be subscription-based, and several consumer-oriented programs.

A number of responses to Warren's post took the chairman and association to task for not acting soon enough to cut costs, failing to deal fairly with chapters and not tapping into or serving the VSDA's core audience of small to mid-sized specialty retailers.

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