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Whistler Chamber offers retail strategy workshop

Challenges and current conditions explored

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Want to get the goods on the future of retail shopping in Whistler?

The Whistler Chamber of Commerce is holding a luncheon and workshop on Thriving in the Age of Consumer Choice at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler on Wednesday, April 24.

Mark Startup, the vice president of MySTORE at the Retail Council of Canada, will speak at the luncheon about understanding current retail trends and adapting businesses for success, the macro trends of changes to carrying out retail business.

This is followed by a three-hour workshop led by Ted Topping, the president of Creative Insights Inc., who looks at strategy for businesses that sell to consumers, the importance of understanding customers and how to do retail successfully given the challenges and trends.

The luncheon starts at noon and the workshop is from 1:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Fiona Famulak, the president of the Whistler Chamber, said the retail theme was a response to requests from chamber members.

"We've heard for the last couple of years, really since the (2010 Olympic) Games that retailers are facing tough competition especially given the prevalence of online shopping. We hear they are seeing less foot traffic," Famulak said. "We're also hearing they are facing stiff competition from the Walmarts and the Costcos and cross-border shopping."

This is still an issue for Whistler, despite the successes of the many events that draw tourists to the resort, she said.

"(The business brought by visitors) translated well into accommodation, it meant that food and beverage guys were busy, but it didn't always translate to the retail folks. That's the focus of the luncheon and workshop," Famulak added.

Sellers of activities, consultants, and others offering services can also benefit from the event, she said.

"Our retailers need to be aware of who is coming to Whistler, what they want, and then offer products and services accordingly."

Tourism Whistler does not track retail spend in the resort, but a spokesperson said that their research does show that the shopping experience contributes to the enhancement of the overall guest experience, with more than four out of five visitors indicating that they shop while they are in Whistler.

That number is consistent for both summer and winter.

The cost for the luncheon only for chamber members is $40, the workshop only is $149 and to attend both costs $159. Non-members are also welcome; the cost for lunch to non-members is $45, the workshop is $199 and it costs $209 to attend both.

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