DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Ace repackages private label hardware

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware has retooled the packaging for its builders hardware department.

According to Cynthia Brasic, Ace brand manager, the new color-coded labels help make the selection process easier for the consumer. It’s the first packaging makeover in the co-op’s builders hardware aisle in about 20 years, she said.

“It’s more user friendly,” Brasic told HCN. “We actually color-coded the packaging so that we make it more shopper friendly. All the bullet points have been updated so that it’s not industry information – its information that will help the consumer make a decision.”

The new packaging has a sustainability angle, too. A trap-blister package replaces a clam-shell package. Brasic says the new packaging will introduce savings of about 8.4 million water bottles per year.

The repackaging is a significant step for Ace’s private label portfolio. Ace has dubbed the program: “Hardware: Unlock the Potential.” The repackaging program has affected about 1,400 skus, Brasic said, and the program is expected to be in full bloom in the first quarter of 2014.

The new packaging was introduced to dealers at the Ace Fall Market in Orlando.

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Hardware Store All-Stars: N.D., S.D. and Minn.

BY HBSDEALER Staff

HCN congratulates the 50 hardware store, home center and farm & ranch retailers who made the annual HCN Hardware Store All-Star list.

Now in its third year, HCN’s annual list of high performers recognizes hardware stores — one from each state — that are outstanding in their field. The complete list and analysis can be found in the September issue of HCN. Meanwhile, HCN Daily will work its way across the country with mini profiles, continuing this week with North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.

North Dakota: How often do you see a hardware store offering veterinary services? Stockmen’s Supply in West Fargo has been supplying animal health products since 1956, expanding its selection over time to include livestock supplies, animal feed and a farm & home section with the requisite hardware fixings. For the surrounding farm & ranch community, Stockmen’s meets the need for a one-stop shop that’ll hand you your shovel, stock your hay supply and get your horses their shots.

South Dakota: Being all things to all people is a task well-handled by Runnings, which has multiple locations in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Montana. It began as an automotive supply store in 1947 and evolved into a hub for farm & ranch, hunting equipment, housewares, clothing, lawn & garden, pet supplies, guns, sporting goods and standard hardware offerings. Reportedly, at least one of their stores supplies liquor as well.

Minnesota: Frattalone’s Ace Hardware has an extensive presence throughout the Twin Cities metro area, but its Hennepin Ave location in Uptown Minneapolis appears to have a bit of a cult following. Rave reviews of the store’s above-and-beyond customer service paint a portrait of a friendly, helpful staff who’s always there to walk you to the correct aisle, help you cool down on a hot day, hold your hand as you jump over a puddle, or cut open that stubborn packaging for you after you’ve made your purchase.

Next week, HCN will highlight All-Stars in Nebraska, Kansa and Iowa. For the full state-by-state list of HCN Hardware Store All Stars, click here.

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New CEO addresses Destination True Value

BY HBSDEALER Staff

As Chicago-based True Value seeks to encourage and support growth among members, the co-op’s six-and-half-year-old Destination True Value (DTV) remodeling program will continue to play a key role under new CEO John Hartmann.

But there may be some tweaks.

“To be crystal clear, Destination True Value is here to stay,” Hartmann told HCN in an interview during the co-op’s 2013 “Reunion” in Chicago last month. “The new guy is not coming in to turn it upside down. But I have a few ideas about it.”

One of those ideas is to somehow make the program more inclusive or more accessible to more True Value members. When Hartmann raised that point during his general session presentation to members in Chicago, the room applauded spontaneously.

Since 2008, True Value has opened, remodeled or converted nearly 400 stores with the Destination True Value format, representing more than 4.5 million sq. ft. (or as a True Value spokewman describes: “about 75 football fields.”) Year to date, 25 new DTV stores have opened, and the co-op is on track to open another 10 to 15 new stores this year. In total, nearly 1 million sq. ft. will open, remodel or convert to the DTV format in 2013.

Hartmann elaborated on his thoughts about the DTV. “We have a really hard focus on how we to make that format more productive; how do we refresh it? How do we ensure that those who invested in it, and also those who invest in it in the future, are getting a strong return.”

The co-op intends to continue the expansion of DTV across the country by ensuring financial support will continue, Hartmann said. The co-op says it has supplied $25.5 million in loans for stores and another $38.5 million in loans to refresh current stores in the past six years.

The CEO also said the co-op is looking to possibly explore creative ways that “stores can become relevant with the consumer within the DTV formant and potential alternatives to that format.” Any changes would have to avoid “diluting the format,” he stressed. 

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