Many independent retailers say they are looking forward to a better year in 2011, including Chris Hughes, owner/president of Hardware Plus in Osceola, Ind. He said in recent months his store has seen double digit sales gains after spending the last year refocusing the product mix and pricing strategy.
Hughes will be attending the 2011 National Hardware Show to look at new programs, including remote controls for vehicles, which he says will complement his niche chip key business.
"As always, I will be looking for the next 'big' thing that would fit my market and customer base, and I will try to bring at least one thing back with me to use at the store," Hughes said. "This is easily accomplished from meeting other store owners, listening to the various speakers, or sometimes even vendors."
Hughes was one of dozens of hardware store owners who attended a series of focus groups sponsored by the National Hardware Show and National Retail Hardware Association and designed to glean information on the state of the industry and what retailers are looking for at the Show.
Brent Dennis, owner of the Dennis Company of Raymond, Wash., said his sales were down 3.5% in 2010, but with some new jobs opening up in his area, he is projecting a 1% sales increase this year. As for what Dennis looks for in a trade show like the National Hardware Show, he said, "Like always, I'm looking for new exciting programs that will drive customers into our stores...that will make Dennis Company different, a unique shopping experience. We will search out buys on basic merchandise that will increase my gross margin and research services that can lower our cost of doing business."
The National Hardware Show will take place in Las Vegas May 10-12.