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The Hairy Woodpecker

Birding Business September 2014- Industry News

Best Birding Retailer Awards - Birding Retailers to be Recognized

Birding Business magazine and Gold Crest Distributing are looking for a few good retailers – especially those engaged in the bird watching/ bird feeding business.
The two organizations recently announced plans to scour the country looking for the best birding specialty stores and wild bird departments. Candidates will be nominated both by vendors and via a search committee.

“This industry needs to recognize excellence in retailing and advancement of the hobby of birding,” says Grant Toellner, Vice-President of Gold Crest. “There are scores of stores out there doing a remarkable job of educating customers, merchandising, marketing, and impacting their communities with a wild bird emphasis.  We want to see the front-line leaders recognized for their contributions.”

Initial categories for the Best Birding Retailers awards will be:

Best Store with a Birding Emphasis  - (Over 3-years in operation)

Best Store with a Birding Emphasis - (Less than 3-years in operation)

Best Birding Department  - (in a multi-Line store) 

Best Birding Department - (as a funding source for a non-profit organization)

A candidate Search Committee will present their findings and recommendations in April, 2015 to the Award Selection Team. The AST, made up of birding products industry leaders, will further evaluate the candidates. Criteria considered include sales volume (total and per/sq. ft.), growth trends, product lines, merchandising, advertising, customer communication (websites, social media), and overall operations outreach to the community.

Winning Retailers and runners-up will be announced at the 2015 Wild Bird Expo, October 6-8, in Mexico, MO. Articles about the winners will be published in Birding Business.

Further information will be published in upcoming issues of Birding Business. Nomination forms are available by emailing Gold Crest at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For additional information contact Grant Toellner, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or BB Publisher Ray David, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

WBU stores meet in Pittsburg
The David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, PA, was the place to be for Wild Birds Unlimited franchise store owners June 26-July 1 as they convened for their annual Vendor Mart.

“We were delighted with the 2014 Vendor Mart,” said Liz Hansen, Merchandise Manager. “Many of our franchise store owners and suppliers were able to attend the show and the accompanying Enterprise Leadership Conference. In fact, this year’s conference was one of the best, with nearly 200 stores attending.”

The WBU Vendor Mart event showcased over 50 first-time attendees, an increase over the 2013 show.

“We always enjoy the WBU Vendor Mart,” says Grant Toellner, Gold Crest Distributing. “It’s always refreshing to talk with stores that share our passion for birding and nature.”

“We are already planning for next year. It will take place at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, our home field”, said Hansen.

AmericasMart a little slow this year
Attendance for the July 8-14 AmericasMart Gift and Home Furnishings show was somewhat lighter than in previous years.

“Every vendor I have spoken with says customer traffic is down in all three buildings,” said Paul Oliver, Urban Nature Stores, Toronto.

It seems the steep downtown hotel rates during show dates, the consistent barrage of street panhandlers, the loud piped in music on many floors, and the disregard for AmericasMart by the MARTA transit system (with station escalators closed for maintenance during peak attendee traffic), all conspired to slow the pace of the country’s largest gift show.

“The majority of AmericasMart attendees are women who desire and deserve a safe shopping experience,” says Brooke Newton, Showroom Manager for Par-A-Sol’. “I don’t think we are seeing that in downtown Atlanta. AmericasMart and the city need to get together.”

“We wrote more orders than last July, but traffic this year was definitely lighter,” adds Greg Anderson, an exhibitor at Cohasset.

“I had to tell them to turn the music down,” says Velma Smith, at Mr. Bird. “We found we were trying to talk over the music when customers were in our booth.”
Some of the usual temporary exhibitors seemed to expect a light turnout and decided not to participate this year. The absence of exhibitors was no more conspicuous than in the Birding and Backyard Nature temps. Even with last minute switching of booth locations and aisles to improve traffic flow on the exhibit floor, there were fewer birding exhibitors and only a handful more Garden temps. This may be a signal that it’s time to re-think the seasonality for certain components of the show.     

Transportation Problems in Canada
According to the Toronto Star newspaper, the Canadian government has extended an earlier order requiring the country’s two main railways to move at least minimum amounts of grain each week through   November, or face penalties as high as $100,000 a day.  The problem is that 2013 was a ‘100 year’ grain harvest and the infrastructure needed to handle it, says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, is not available to keep it moving through the pipeline.  “It wasn’t necessarily a lack of cars. It was a lack of engines and crews to haul them. And a lack of coordination in the logistics”, he said.

The railways disagree, saying there is no structural problem to be fixed but there are “normal commercial incentives to be considered, which sounds like… “there is more money in shipping lumber, potash and other commodities and the equipment goes where the money is.“ It is not known if the various bird food crops are included in the backlog, but we’ll report more as we hear it.

Here in the U.S. there has been an ongoing freight issue for grain traders, including bird food packers, in that the railways are reluctant to haul single carloads when ‘Unit Trains’ of 110 cars at a time are easier to handle, and more profitable.  They can be subject to fines for delayed deliveries of smaller shipments, but the railways have come up with ways to circumvent those regulations with impunity.  The bird food industries in both countries cannot help but be affected by these issues so customers downstream should be prepared for delays or short-shipments.

Industry Pioneer Passes
Darryl Brummell, one of the early members of the Wild Bird Feeding Institute, which has since become the Wild Bird Feeding Industry association, passed away in late July. Founder of Essex Topcrop, a bird food packer in Southwestern Ontario, Darryl was well-known and well regarded for his leadership in the industry and though he’s been largely inactive in recent years will be missed by many. His son, Craig Brummell took over operation of the family company some time ago and has served for years on the board of the WBFI, and It’s Research Foundation. Craig is currently past-president and a member of the executive committee.