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Jamie Sorcher

Networking heats up in the high desert with the 2013 Casual Living conference

Contacts count - and that is why networking is both a great investment of time and money. There isn't a better opportunity than the upcoming Casual Living conference, Outer Spaces: Expanding the Universe for the Outdoor Room, to be held Feb. 20-22 at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, Ariz.

Start off by attending the ICFA Board of Directors and membership open meeting Feb. 19-20. You can meet up with folks afterward for some golf, sponsored by TUUCI, at the La Paloma Country Club. The three Jack Nicklaus-designed 9-hole courses have the rugged Santa Catalina Mountains as a backdrop.

If golf is not your thing, catch the bus and take the store tour of Today's Patio, winner of Casual Living's Retailer of the Year award, to be presented during the conference.

Registration for the conference begins at 4:30 p.m. and cocktails will follow on the terrace level patio, where you can catch up with all of your casual industry friends and colleagues. Dinner is on your own. Azul is on site or venture out to any of the local haunts.

Grab some breakfast, sponsored by Americas Mart, on Thursday morning before the conference officially begins. Keynote Speaker Neil Dempster starts things off with his advice on "How To Stand Out In A Sea Of Sameness," followed by speaker Brian Offenberger, who will share his "11 Best Marketing Practices." You'll have a chance to compare notes and grab some coffee during the break, all of which are sponsored by Pride Family Brands.

Next, you'll hear about credit strategies from Michael Hudgens of CIT Commercial Services. Lunch, sponsored by Treasure Garden, Casual Living's Supplier of the Year, is followed by retail coach Barbara Crowhurst, who will help get your business plans in order for 2013.

A panel session on how to merchandise your store and turn accessories in to a profit center featuring Apollo-winning retailers Sunshine Furniture and Yard Art and Patio, plus Casual Living's Retail Merchandising winner Summer Classics, round out the afternoon. There is some free time built into the afternoon for you to enjoy a walk around the hotel's beautiful grounds or to slip into the Red Door spa for a dip in the Jacuzzi.

Cocktails, sponsored by Agio, out on the Arizona deck, are the segue into the Awards Dinner, sponsored by MMPI, where Today's Patio and Treasure Garden will be honored. Stick around to congratulate the winners and have some post-party drinks in the lobby bar.

Early risers can enjoy a brisk morning walk before grabbing some breakfast. The morning session begins with Michael O'Hanlon of online retailer Wayfair, who shares how to take advantage of the online opportunities available to every retailer. Following is the final session, featuring the next generation of outdoor executives from The Chair King, Today's Patio and Tropitone, who will offer their perspectives on what they see is in the stars for the future of the casual industry.

Click here to register, and check out the entire agenda and additional information here.

We hope you will take advantage of this great networking opportunity, where you will be able to network without having to worry about buying or selling something.

This event provides a relaxed networking opportunity where you can strengthen or build relationships as you will be with a select group of retailers that can collaborate with your manufacturing partners on ways to grow your business. Hope to see you in Tucson.

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