Throwback Thursday: Lumber on the sales floor

Inside or outside? That was the home center merchandising question of 1982.

Drywall, fencing and insulation inside a Forest City home center in Michigan.

“Lumber is moving indoors to spur retail volume.” That was the headline for an article in the Aug. 16, 1982, issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer.

One reason for the trend was to attract the attention of the DIY customer. Diamond International’s Anderson, Calif., warehouse unit went indoors with dimensional lumber in a merchandising experiment. O’Malley Lumber in Phoenix also brought in commodities such as gypsum.

It was all part of a cat and mouse game played by contractor-oriented operations to “boost retail sales without discouraging their long-time professional clientele.”

Other examples of indoor LBM included W.R. Grace’s Handy City store in Stone Mountain, Ga.; Courtesy Home Center of Forest Park, Ill., and Wickes in Langhorne, Pa.

The topic of LBM merchandising also allowed one home center executive to highlight his company’s service, at the expense of the competition.

Here’s Doug Jonson of Lampert Lumber of St. Paul, Minnesota. “Our reputation as a lumberyard dictates that, if we’re going to start retailing LBM products, we have to provide strong in-store service as well. Chains like Hechinger and Handy Dan don’t have that obstacle to overcome and can get away with much less service.”


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