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The NAMA Show 2023 welcomed nearly 5,000 professionals in Atlanta

The NAMA Show kicked off on Wednesday, May 10, with the general session, which included a thought-provoking panel discussion that delved into the association’s next-level advocacy agenda

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ARLINGTON, Va., USA – The National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) welcomed nearly 5,000 operators, suppliers and industry professionals, representing 35 countries, to The NAMA Show 2023 at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center (May 10-12). From the return of Imagination Way, to the expo hall, education and networking events, attendees experienced a line-up of opportunities to envision the future of the consumer journey and explore the important touchpoints of convenience along the way.

“I encourage our attendees to think about client and consumer relationships, to think about the limitless potentials of convenience, and to think about the experience that ties it all together,” said Carla Balakgie, FASAE, CAE, president & CEO of NAMA. “Because that’s what brings us here to the NAMA Show 2023 – Clients, Consumers, Convenience, and Experience.”

The NAMA Show kicked off on Wednesday, May 10, with the general session, which included a thought-provoking panel discussion that delved into the association’s next-level advocacy agenda.

The panel — moderated by NAMA Board strategic advisor Jim Meffert and featuring Balakgie and NAMA’s incoming chair, Lance Whorton of Imperial Inc. — addressed two pivotal issues.

The first was the acceptance of SNAP EBT (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefit Transfer) in vending machines and micro markets. Recognizing the significance of accessibility, the panel shed light on the potential benefits associated with the expansion, focusing on enhancing consumer convenience, filling a crucial food accessibility need, and the opportunity to serve a larger market.

The second issue was elimination or reduction of state sales tax in vending machines and micro markets, achieving parity in relation to similar industries. This endeavor aims to foster an environment conducive to business growth and creating more opportunities for operators.


Following the panel, keynote speaker, Mick Ebeling, founder and CEO of Not Impossible Labs, challenged attendees to think about embracing new ideas, overcoming the impossible and achieving outcomes that are seemingly out of reach. He stressed to the crowd, “Everything that’s possible today was impossible at first.”

Ebeling’s keynote, and the opening session, set the tone for the event, emphasizing the profound impact of the advocacy initiatives and inspiring attendees to harness the power of innovation and look to the overall possibilities for the industry.

“At this year’s show, it was inspiring to see our attendees get behind the same cause, advancing the industry forward,” said Kristen Griffith, Vice President of Programs & Services of NAMA. “From the general session and education tracks to the products and demonstrations on display, it all leads to one outcome: setting up convenience services for greater success now and in the future.”

Imagination Way offered visitors the chance to explore hands-on exhibits replicating visionary concepts and solutions for end-consumers and public environments. Showcasing everything from automated restaurants to robotic self-service retail technology, the exhibition presented an impressive showcase for attendees looking for inspiration to take back to their own companies.

The NAMA Show 2023 offered over 30 education sessions across five tracks including the concepts and adjacencies presented in Imagination Way. NAMA’s annual Industry Awards also were presented during the event.


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