National Hardware Show preview

What happens in Vegas could influence the home improvement products people buy for years to come

The National Hardware Show’s tailgate and outdoor recreation area will be 50% larger in 2012.

Whether it’s a product designed to bring efficiency to the home, save time for the DIYer or allow a consumer a chance to feel good about buying a Made-in-the-USA product, show organizers have taken steps to give permanence to the show-floor activity.

The May 1 to 3 event at the Las Vegas Convention Center will see a few new twists.

For the first time at the show, a “Made in the USA Pavilion” will showcase domestic-made products.

Research conducted by the National Hardware Show pointed to the need to address the Made-in-the-USA trend, said Richard Russo, director of the event. “It came up pretty strong in our research,” he said. “Made in the USA was trending strong on the consumer side. And the retailers were clearly interested in what we at the National Hardware Show would be able to expose them to at the event.”

Sponsoring the pavilion, appropriately, is the Made in the USA Brand & Logo Certification Mark. U.S.-made products will also be marked throughout the exhibit floor with banners.

The show is also making it easier to spot true innovation in general.

“New products are a vital part of keeping the industry moving forward, and they are also a vital part of the offering at the National Hardware Show,” said Sonya Ruff Jarvis, VP attendee programs for the National Hardware Show.

A long list of events will strive to identify products most likely to make a difference with retailers and consumers.

Traditional ceremonies include the Home Channel News Golden Hammer Awards ceremony and the North American Retail Hardware Association’s (NHRA’s) and Hardware Retailing’s Retailer’s Choice Awards.

A new event expected to make waves while searching for new products is the Pitch Tank Awards, slated for Thursday morning at the NRHA Village Stage. Fans of the television show “Shark Tank” won’t want to miss it.

The Pitch Tank was created to allow everyday entrepreneurs and inventors a chance to give their “pitches,” or presentations, to a seasoned team of product development executives and marketers, led by well-known entrepreneur Kevin Harrington, who also appears as one of the “sharks” on the TV show.

“[The National Hardware Show] is a great venue for Pitch Tank because hardware products have proven to be very successful in direct-response television, live shopping and retail,” Harrington said. “The products in hardware tend to be visual, demonstrable and problem-solving, three very important features of direct-response products.”

The Pitch Tank will debut as part of the show’s new Innovation Station area, dedicated to showcasing new home improvement products, ideas and inventions.

“While it’s always nice to see the industry’s innovators get recognized for their hard work with awards, these kinds of award programs are also a vitally important part of the industry’s channel partners communicating with one another,” Jarvis said.

Products are one draw for some of the industry’s heavy hitters. But it’s not the only draw. Thousands of attendees representing billions of dollars in annual sales will be on hand, and they’re also here to make contacts.

“I don’t think I have missed a National Hardware Show for as long as I have been in this industry,” said Boyden Moore, president of Central Network Retail Group, which currently operates some 35 home centers and hardware stores throughout the United States. “What I get out of the show is really two things. On one hand, it is a great place to get the best look at the complete range of products that are available out there,” Moore said. “But just as, if not more important to me, is the ability to go to the show and share ideas and make contacts with people from throughout the industry.”

Other influential home improvement retailers who are scheduled to attend the event include such companies as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Marvin’s Building Materials and Home Centers, Sears/Kmart, Sherwin-Williams, Westlake Hardware and more.

The home improvement industry’s distribution community will also be well represented at the event with buyers from Ace Hardware, Distribution America, Do it Best, Orgill, PRO Group, True Value, United Hardware, Home Hardware, Wallace Hardware and more signed up to attend.

And as testament to the channel-blurring, it’s not only classic home centers and hardware stores and their distributors walking the aisles.

“One of the things we are excited about is that, over the years, the appeal of the National Hardware Show has broadened and, in addition to buyers from the home improvement space who attend the event, we now have more and more buyers from across the retail, distribution and online spectrum who feel the show is a must-attend event for their buying teams,” Jarvis said.

This list of buyers from around the world of retailing includes heavyweights such as Amazon, Costco, Fred’s, Meijer, Target and Walmart, but also spans the world of specialty product providers such as Big Lots,, Pep Boys, Home Shopping Network, T.J.Maxx, Home Goods, Marshalls, Ross Stores, Shop Rite, SkyMall and Tuesday Morning to name a few.

“SkyMall regularly sends a team to the Hardware Show and has had great success in finding unique, innovative items for the SkyMall catalog and website [at the show],” said Barbara Downey, SkyMall Inc.’s director of merchandising.

More partners, more products

Late last year, the National Hardware Show announced that Lancaster, the nation’s largest paint sundry distributor, would be co-locating its West Coast buying show with the National Hardware Show. The co-location offers paint retailers from around the world a chance not only to shop Lancaster’s offering of products, but will also allow them to browse the range of products on display at the National Hardware Show and take advantage of the unique educational opportunities and networking events held during the event.

“Co-locating with the National Hardware Show, for Lancaster’s first buying show in the West, brings some exciting benefits to our mutual customer base,” said Geff Lynch, Lancaster’s senior VP sales and marketing. “Customers can now take advantage of the incredible wealth of information, promotions and networking that both shows have to offer, with the added benefit of doing so in one trip. For paint retailers, there has always been a void for promotional buys in the early summer, and the Lancaster Trade Show at the National Hardware Show will open up a new buying opportunity for these dealers.”

The National Hardware Show features products across nine categories, including Hardware & Tools, Homewares, Lawn, Garden & Outdoor Living, Paint and Decorating Retailers Association (PDRA) Paint & Accessories Show, Plumbing & Electrical, Storage & Organization, Tailgate & Outdoor Recreation, Inventors Spotlight and International Sourcing, and attracts buyers and sellers from around the world. 

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