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Collaborate 2019: 6 Frequently Asked Questions Answered!

Now in its seventh year, Collaborate 2019 is a partnership between the Retail Design Institute and Retail Connect Events that combines the best of a tradeshow with educational sessions featuring the industry’s top practitioners. Tia Potter, president of Retail Connect Events, answers the basics about this exciting event aimed at making sourcing new products and services smart and simple.

What is Collaborate?

It's a one-on-one format where store planning and design professionals can meet with leading producers over two-and-a-half days. It's a hosted-buyer meeting model, so that means suppliers have stepped forward to pay for qualified buyers to attend at no charge for transportation and lodging. All meals and educational sessions are included during our time together, so Collaborate 2019 is easy on the budget. Collaborate is a way to meet with new vendors in a casual and low-pressure setting. We know specifiers – brands, retailers, and design consultants -- are always being asked to receive new suppliers, and it’s tough for both sides to find the time to meet. Collaborate takes care of the logistics for both sides. We think Collaborate 2019 provides the industry with a productive event where it’s so much easier to do business compared with the traditional tradeshow setup. We like to call Collaborate the “smart and simple way to source.”

When and where is Collaborate 2019 taking place?

We're meeting September 15 to 17 and knew we wanted to head west after having held Collaborate on both coasts recently. We selected the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center just outside of Denver which opened in December. It’s a Marriott property built from the ground up. So, from a brand perspective, we were intrigued by what the design team, which includes an Institute Professional Member, had in mind for this new venue with a “Gold Rush” theme, not to mention the incredible amenities and easy proximity to the Denver airport.

So how does it come together?

The event begins with a casual cocktail reception on Sunday, which is great for networking. We follow with an opening dinner that’s always a big hit since we really take our first meal together pretty seriously. We also have breakfast and lunch for the group on Monday and Tuesday. Of course, we’re known for educational sessions that tackle the industry’s most pressing issues. We’ll be announcing our keynote speakers very soon.

Who buyers might meet at Collaborate 2019?

We’re aware of what buyers are looking for as retail environments are evolving, so we’re always looking for the latest and greatest products such as customer-facing technology including touchscreens and kiosks. But we don’t sacrifice the basic elements that go into physical stores. So, we have leading manufacturers and distributors of custom architectural elements, custom lighting, millwork and fixturing, flooring options from carpeting to stone and tile, furnishings, digital and printed signage, surfacing materials, decor and more. In short, we have a carefully edited assortment of everything needed to create the latest customer-driven retail environments for today's leading brands.

Who else will be there?

We expect to host 65 buyer attendees and we have a great group already registered but space is limited. So far, we have representatives from Aaron’s, AAFESS, Breed & Company, Brooks Brothers, Carter Lumber, Centercal Properties, Centric Brands, Clarks Americas, Dunkin’ Brands, Elkus Manfredi, Flynn Restaurant Group, Focus Brands, Fullspeed Automotive, Harbor Freight Tools, The Hershey Company, Hourglass Cosmetics, IA Interior Architects, Kilwin’s Chocolates, L Brands, Lemonade Restaurant Group, Lilly Pulitzer, LOC Associates, March Studio, Marriott International, Nike, PrimeMark, RaceTrac, Retail Habitats, Retailworks, Saks Fifth Avenue, Samsung, Stantec, TGI Friday's, The Howard Hughes Corporation, The Kroger Company, Under Armour, Vilebrequin, Wawa Inc., WeWork and ZGallerie – with more to come!

How can Institute members get in touch to learn more?

They can call me directly at 917-846-5185; or email me,

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