Editor's Letter: Convenience on Steroids

I always thought I’d work in newspapers.

I got the degree in journalism. I had a bright-lights-big-city mentality. I was ready to take on the world.

So I moved to Chicago. Some of the media trade’s biggest and most important names came from this town. Mike Royko. Roger Ebert. Even Langston Hughes wrote a weekly column for the Chicago Defender for a period of years. The city has pedigree.

But I struggled, as most do. And after I spent many months hunting for work (and after a few loans from my folks), I looked in another direction. Many don’t know this—I certainly didn’t when I graduated—but Chicago is a trade magazine sort of town. It has its gritty crime reporting down pat, but it’s got something else too. It is to trade magazines what New York is to slick consumer magazines.

Chicago is an industry town.

And that’s how it happened. I sharpened my reporter’s teeth in, of all places, the packaging trade. I did so for almost eight years. It’s where I covered my first press conference, and where I wrote my first product review. It’s also where I attended my first trade show.

Pack Expo is the packaging industry’s NACS Show. Each year it fills either the Las Vegas Convention Center or McCormick Place in Chicago with rows upon rows of machinery. The biggest manufacturers in the world attend, either shopping for new packaging equipment or showing it.

I still remember how the packaging trade show smelled—like molded plastic and oiled gaskets. It sounded like an airplane about to take off. Some of the most sophisticated machines in the world are packaging machines, and walking into Pack Expo was like walking into a science fair on steroids. It was an inventor’s world of pure imagination. But to me, it wasn’t very glamorous.

It seems I found my glamour in the convenience trade. I began covering the convenience-store industry seven years ago. I have been to six NACS Shows, and they literally sparkle. When I walk onto the show floor, I smell comfort food cooking. I see things that, as a consumer, I actually want. The NACS Show isn’t just a trade show on steroids—it’s a c-store on steroids.

This issue of Convenience Store Products magazine is also kicked up many notches. In celebration of our industry’s most important appointment, our magazine is sharing with you a mammoth 225 products, and a number of those products are making their debut at NACS. This is your NACS Show sneak preview, your show guide. (See p. 26.)

The NACS Show is nothing if not comprehensive. There aren’t many trade shows where you can find the newest innovation in candy as well as the latest in car washes or fried chicken. For you, we aim to mimic that across-the-board convenience, hot off the presses.

Speaking of hot off the presses: Just as your businesses are, at Winsight we’re constantly innovating to better serve you. As of Oct. 1, Convenience Store Products magazine has its very own online presence. CStoreProductsOnline.com brings you everything the magazine does in an easy-to-navigate, uber-searchable format. I’ve been telling everyone it’s the ultimate search engine for convenience-store products.

Give it a try, and let us know what you think!