I guess this is really two questions - sort of a survey. I'm interested in the views of suppliers as well as retailers. QUESTION 1: Should the supplier you buy materials from, and who benefits every time you make a sale, feel an obligation to help support your marketing efforts in some way. This help could take a number of different forms. I'll share some ideas and possibilities below. QUESTION 2: Without regard to "obligation," don't you think it would just be smart business for a supplier to participate in the advertising efforts of the retailers whose sales they depend upon? After all, your supplier's success is tied to your own. When you're slow, they're slow. When you spend more on advertising in order to increase sales, if that advertising is successful, your supplier's sales increases too. However, you currently bear the full burden, and risk of that advertising. Here's my view on this: I don't believe a materials supplier has any specific obligation to individual customers, but I do think they have some kind of responsibility to their retail customers as a whole. More important, I think it absolutely is good business, especially for independent suppliers, to take a lead role in organizing, promoting, or even developing cooperative advertising for their retailers. Who better to do it then the supplier you work with everyday? The reason I bring this up is because I've had conversations with a few wholesale suppliers who recognize, and acknowledge, that the only way they'll be more successful is if you're more successful. They also realize that every sale lost to a chain store is lost business for them too. So what can our independent wholesale suppliers do? For one thing, they can become the local leader to help organize co-op groups. They might also consider pitching in financially, a modest amount to show their commitment and support. For example, a supplier might set aside 4% of all sales to participating retailers, to be used to purchase additional advertising. This is a small investment in your success that should pay for itself many times over. I've always felt that the key to co-op was local leadership. But after running uphill for that past two months, looking for retailers to assume local leadership roles, I've come to the conclusion that if our industry is to embrace co-op advertising, it's got to be at the behest of the local suppliers. They are the ones with an open communication channel and an infrastructure to make it succeed. Furthermore, they are the one with the greatest incentive to see it succeed. One supplier in Michigan (correct me if I'm wrong), to his/her credit, has already done this and it was done independent of, and before, the Join Together Program was introduced. It's apparent to me that the interest in co-op advertising is out there. Retailers are interested. However, as John Paul, Susan Young and others have discovered, the reception to a competitor's invitation, or that of a a stranger (me), is not always as warm, or objective, as it would be coming from your trusted supplier. Without the suppliers getting involved, the prognosis for co-op dims considerably. On the other hand, suppliers who step forward, whether it be with my Join Together Program or their own version, stand to gain in a variety of ways, not the least of which is that retailers will reward them for their suppport by patronizing their business. One major supplier, M&M Distributors, has offered to distribute more than 1000 copies of the Join Together DVD in their next catalogue mailing. I think this is a great starting point and invite other suppliers to get involved too. Interested suppliers are invited to PM me with contact info. I believe co-op advertising is exactly the shot in the arm that our industry needs to compete more effectively in today's marketplace. I hope to see this happen in the near future and hope our independent suppliers (Suppliers who serve the chains won't get involved for fear of alienating their biggest customers.) step forward to play a central role.