Ideas emerge at True Value University event

True Value's Birkey, left, and Stangel.

During the True Value’s Fall Market in Philadelphia, a day spent on Retail Best Practices produced some actionable advice, according to organizers.

Some 500 True Value members attended the Retail Best Practices Conference (RBPC) and generated some actionable, take-home ideas.

Among the most popular ideas, as determined by those who participated, was a hardware happy hour -- an after-work promotional period to attract commuters on their way home. (A possible slogan for such an event, according to one retailer: "Get hammered.") 

Other ideas were gathered and collected from breakout groups throughout the day. They included Facebook Friday, Twitter Thursday and a Mother's Day planters program that allows customers to arrange to grow their own customized gifts in the store.

Participants also concluded that propane sales and service is something that would benefit most hardware store retailers.

The event, organized by the Chicago-based co-op's True Value University team, ran from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Thursday, the day before its Fall Market opened. The RBPC included some modifications this year designed to increase interaction.

A shift from monolog to dialog was one of the keys, said Lori Birkey, director of True Value University. "The retailers come to network with each other," she said. "They come to get tactical information that's real-world tested that they can go back and apply right away. And they also come to get informal networking with the management team."

The event required careful planning, including assigned seating, to encourage friends and family to split up and share ideas with members of similar store size, urbanicity and years of experience.

"It worked," said Katie Stangel, manager of True Value University.

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