For those that attend, regional shows like the WPMA Expo are a great chance to see how the whole industry comes together.

SSCS attended the WPMA Show at the Mirage in Las Vegas last week, the kind of powerhouse regional event that propels the trade show year. Sponsored by the Western Petroleum Marketers Association, the show benefits from an impressive reach because eight statewide associations fall under the WPMA umbrella: Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Utah, where the association is headquartered.

This year’s WPMA Expo was notable in that there was a rise in attendance and fewer masks being required than at other post-COVID shows. Seeing more people in person made us think about the vast collection of people and industries that come together to ensure a satisfying experience for the customer.

It also made us think that if you were a newbie to the industry, the WPMA and shows like it would be a great place to get a handle on the different players that contribute to that experience—not to mention how those parties interact with each other (and SSCS).

It’s like having a microcosm of the industry in one convenient place, which gives shape to the industry for the uninitiated. Taking in the information and displays at various booths and getting into nuts-and-bolts conversations with different company reps make the industry easier to sort out.

There’s also the opportunity for attending companies to meet and talk with their customers in the region, whether it’s at the booth or a hospitality event. Conversations like these are an education in themselves, as one can get working perspectives on industry-wide challenges such as supply chain issues and rising costs.

Though the convenience of virtual meetings and seminars is here to stay, there is no true substitute for the immersive experience of a live, in-person trade show like WPMA. These events function as hubs around which the retail petroleum community convenes, providing an important entry point to the convenience store industry.