Close to a foot of snow, which could make it the largest snowfall in Kansas City, Mo., in a century, has been wreaking havoc with travel plans for both the American Bookseller Association’s Winter Institute, which officially kicks off with a reception Friday evening, and the 90th anniversary of the National Association of College Store’s Campus Market Expo (CAMEX), which will also hold its opening on Friday night.
Even before the snow began to fall early Thursday morning, NACS canceled one of its pre-show campus tours. Others were canceled after Kansas City Mayor Sly James declared a state of emergency at 9 a.m. because of Winter Storm Q. An hour later the airport closed and the registration area of the official Winter Institute hotel, the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center, started filling not with convention-goers but those whose flights were canceled. At least one major airline that flies into Kansas City, Southwest Airlines, posted a notice that that flights on Thursday and Friday could be delayed, diverted, or canceled.
In addition to booksellers being caught up in the storm, which created white-out conditions earlier on Thursday, Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman of the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates had their flight delayed until Saturday and are hoping to reschedule their day-long seminar on “How to Succeed at Retail Bookselling: Introduction to the Bookstore Business.”
Some intrepid presenters have found unusual workarounds. All of NACS’s mega speakers are expected to attend. Friday morning’s opening speaker, Jeremy Gutsche, author of Exploiting Chaos and founder of TrendHunter.com, re-routed his flight and will now land in Omaha to get to the show. CAMEX also offered an impromptu “bonus” session Thursday afternoon for college staffers, who were able to get to the convention. NACS Chief Information Officer Mark Nelson and v-p of government relations Rich Hershman spoke on course materials, digital content, and related legislation. Friday morning NACS executives said CAMEX would go forward, though with a modified education program. The trade show, set to open Sunday, is expected to be unaffected by the storm.
On Thursday evening the ABA was planning to go ahead with its conference as planned. On its Web site it posted: “Snow is falling on Kansas City but there are no changes to the Winter Institute schedule.” The only real setback for those who got to NACS and CAMEX early is that many local businesses, including Rainy Day Books, were forced to closed because of the snow. So they’ll have to wait until tomorrow to visit a favorite bookstore or to have BBQ.