Hardware stores and the $100,000 question

The National Hardware Show’s Reimagine Retail finalists have been selected.

The National Hardware Show plays in Las Vegas next week.

Ten hardware stores have been selected as finalists for the National Hardware Show Reimagine Retail contest and have a chance to win $100,000.

The key to the contest is the question: What would you do with $100,000 to improve your business?

More than 100 independent retailers from across the country and Canada submitted their innovative ideas and visions for the future of their retail business for a chance to win $100,000 to make those visions reality. The winner will be announced during the 2017 National Hardware Show, taking place next week, May 9, through Thursday, May 11, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The Reimagine Retail program kicked off in February, giving independent retailers a chance to showcase their ideas for the future of their retail businesses and how they would improve their store with $100,000. The program focused on the four pillars of store design, technology, employees and products.

Here are the finalists and their project ideas:


Caribou Jack’s Trading Co., Soda Springs, Idaho

In Soda Springs, Idaho, Caribou Jack’s Trading Co. customers have a connection to grilling at the store. The store plans to use the prize money to build an in-store cafe, combining the farm-to-table and grilling communities. In addition to hosting grilling and cooking events, the Caribou Jack’s plans to allow community organizations to access the space at no charge, and they plan to build a space within the next three years to grow the produce used in the cafe. The store also plans to develop an app to help groups coordinate events in the space. 

• Debbie Supply, Inc., East Rochester, New York 

This business opened 60 years ago as a plumbing wholesaler in East Rochester, New York, and has grown into a full-service hardware operation. With the prize money, Debbie Supply will buy new service equipment: a pipe-threading and cutting machine, a key-cutting machine and a paint mixer. In addition to the physical equipment, Debbie Supply plans to invest in upgraded computer systems to support the new equipment to better serve its customers. 

• K Hardware Stores, Idaho Falls, Idaho 

If you’ve ever needed a part or a product in the middle of a project, but didn’t want• to stop to run to the store, K Hardware Stores in Idaho Falls, Idaho, wants to build a solution that fits in the palm of your hand. Instead of asking someone else to run out for the product and risk them buying the wrong item, they envision an app that allows customers to preorder the correct item and get curbside pickup when they arrive at the store.


La Grange Park Ace Hardware, La Grange Park, Illinois
Meeting customers’ needs can be challenging if a store doesn’t have the right configuration. La Grange Park Ace Hardware in La Grange Park, Illinois, wants to address its challenges in this area by using the prize money to remove its current checkout counter, allowing space for more impulse items, and implementing mobile checkout. With mobile checkout, La Grange Park customers will be able to complete their sale anywhere in the store, even from the parking lot. 

• Logan Hardware, Washington, D.C. 

How much business does your in-store service lose because your customers can’t find time to bring the project to you? The answer, according to Logan Hardware in Washington, D.C., is mobile window-screen repair. They will use the Reimagine Retail prize money to develop an app that will connect customers to screen repair services that come to them. This could be expanded to other services as well. 

• Mark’s Supply, Frackville and Shenandoah, Pennsylvania 

Mark’s Supply, in Frackville and Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, cares about its community and wants to give back. The prize money will be used to update the storefront and invest in renewable energy solutions for the store. In addition, they will build an outdoor pavilion where farmers and crafters can sell their goods. They expect this space to increase foot traffic and inspire other retailers and entrepreneurs to enter the empty storefronts in the area. 

• Parry’s, Hamilton, New York

A greenhouse is the solution for Parry’s in Hamilton, New York. The retailer plans to use the $100,000 prize money toward renovating its current store to add space for local food, craft beer and cider and adding a permanent greenhouse to accommodate lawn and garden items and seasonal merchandise. Parry’s is confident that this project will be a destination for locals and tourists. 

• Sandpoint Super Drug, Sandpoint, Idaho 
Super Drug in Sandpoint, Idaho, is well known in its community for being the go-to pharmacy and is planning to revitalize the hardware side of its business by improving communication options for customers. They were inspired to create a customer consultation center that will allow customers to contact store representatives through many digital platforms, including social media and live chat. 

• Shaw Hardware Store Inc., Plattsmouth, Nebraska 

This woman-owned business in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, plans to use the prize money to improve its online presence, renovate the existing store to add more sales floor space and create a space for local craftspeople to lead classes and encourage young people to engage in a craft or artform. These plans build on what already exists at the store, which hosts classes at the local community college and in the store for projects from home repair to Pinterest.

• Woods Hardware, Cincinnati, Ohio 

Woods Hardware in Cincinnati plans to use the prize money to meet customers’ needs before they ever make it to the store. The team virtualized a 3-D image of their store and wants to be a leader in omnichannel retailing with the next step. Using meta tags, how-to videos and e-commerce within the program, the virtual hardware store will take customers right to each product and provide a total cost estimate before they visit the store.

All ten finalists are being provided transportation and hotel accommodations to the National Hardware Show. The winner will be announced and awarded the grand prize of $100,000 during the Show, at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, on the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) Village Stage.  

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