A handful of big-name brands—such as Google, Target, Kroger and more—will present at this year's conference.

In the retail world, to have worked in Columbus carries a certain cachet. We’re home to some of the world’s major apparel brands, ranking No. 1 among large U.S. metros for concentration of apparel headquarters, according to data analysis firm ESRI. So it comes as no surprise—at least to those of us living in Columbus—that we could create a retail conference with more than 120 speakers, 30 panels and a fashion and innovation showcase. More than 1,200 people are expected to attend CBUS19: Retail Re-Thought June 5-6 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center to see presenters from Google, DSW, Green Growth Brands, Restoration Hardware, FAO Schwarz, Abercrombie and Fitch, Big Lots, Ascena, Target, Kroger and Krispy Kreme. Topics will include startups, design, customer experience, technology, supply chain, the future of retail and more.

CBUS Retail is a nonprofit networking organization that was founded by industry veteran Steve Morris a few years ago when a small group of retail consultants and service providers started a business development peer group. Morris is CEO of Asset Strategies Group LLC, a company he launched to provide real estate and back-office services to specialty retailers. He says the retail ecosystem in Columbus is vast and dense, with the common thread among alumni of the larger companies being that they all want to stay in Columbus after they leave their corporate jobs. The original peer group kept attracting members until a critical mass was reached, he says.

“It’s just a high-energy group of senior-level executives who’ve left retail but love Columbus, love retail and want to stay involved in the industry,” he says.

The board of CBUS Retail is a who’s who in creative corporate Columbus: Melanie Corn, president of Columbus College of Art & Design; Denny Gerdeman of Chute Gerdeman; Easton co-founder Yaromir Steiner; Michael Rayden, former CEO of Justice; and more.