The 4th Annual PoolCorp Retail Summit on Jan. 8-9 at the Hilton Anatole Dallas attracted 807 people from 392 retail firms, as well as 95 vendors.

The Covington, La.-based distributor’s invitation-only event included educational sessions, networking opportunities and a Vendor Showcase.

“We invite our top retailers in from around the country, and we really try to focus on retail,” said Donna Williams, PoolCorp’s general manager of global sales, marketing and product management.

The polar vortex weather played a minor role in the event’s attendance, delaying some attendees en route. “Not huge [impact on attendance], but there were a lot of people who couldn’t get there for the opening,” Williams said.

The opening speech was delivered by PoolCorp President Manuel Perez de la Mesa, who highlighted how the retail industry has changed over time and how the pool industry must evolve along with it. One way to do that, he said, is by finding out what works and what doesn’t in your retail store by moving items around and tracking the impact on consumer sales.

A key educational session at the event featured Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, a retail motivational speaker and expert. “He received a standing ovation,” Williams noted.

Also speaking at the event was Lynn Switanowski, founder/ president of Creative Business Consulting Group, who highlighted the importance of using digital media to reach retail customers. “Her big message was: You don’t have to be on Facebook as an individual, but your business does,” Williams said. Switanowski also gave the audience a statistic to show just how much news their customers are getting from the large social network: 50 percent of people check their Facebook accounts before they get out of bed in the morning.

PoolCorp also included sessions led by Hayward, Pentair and Zodiac in the lineup, to familiarize retailers with the companies’ new products and programs for 2014.

Williams marked the event as a success. “[Retailers] seem optimistic and they wanted to learn,” she said. “They want to improve their business, which I found very encouraging.”