America’s favorite small business
Plainview, N.Y.-based Trio Hardware won the Independent We Stand’s third-annual Indie Awards, which honors small businesses across the country as part of the organization’s advocacy efforts.
More than 32,000 votes were counted for more than 250 businesses; 2,024 of them (10% of Plainview’s population) went to Trio Hardware, a fixture of its Long Island community for 50 years.
With its large amassment of votes placing the store squarely in the top 10, the rest of the work was left to a panel of judges, who deemed Trio Hardware worthy of the title.
The store is the subject of fierce loyalty and community involvement among Plainview members, who rallied around it to defeat the proposed opening of a national big-box store nearby. They were also responsible for restocking its shelves after it was razed by a fire in 1996.
In addition to the 2013 Independent We Stand Independent Small Business of the Year Award, the store will also receive $15,000 in prizes.
Rocky’s helps pets with food drive
Launching its third annual Holiday Pet Food Drive, Springfield, Mass.-based Rocky’s Ace Hardware teamed with Nutro Pet Foods to help homeless and abandoned pets. The drive runs now through Dec. 23.
Each of the 32 Rocky’s Ace Hardware stores have partnered with an area Humane Society or Shelter to collect food this Holiday Season for the much forgotten and unfortunate animals in our own community.
“The drive has become an annual tradition here at Rocky’s. It’s a fantastic opportunity for concerned individuals to help innocent animals without having to make a separate trip to their area Animal Shelter or Humane Society,” said Rocco Falcone, president and CEO.
Here is how the program works: Customers make donations of much needed pet food at their local Rocky’s Ace Hardware store, specially marked signs and a collection basket will guide customers to the collection area. The stores, will then in turn collect all donations and drive them to their locally chosen charity. Nutro Pet Foods has partnered with Rocky’s in donating more than $1,500 worth of premium dog and cat food to kickstart the program. Donations will be delivered directly to the Shelter or Humane Society on or about Dec. 24, 2013.
Last year, the second annual pet food drive resulted in more than 6,500 pounds of food and many toys, pet beds and other needed accessories being donated to a long list of worthy humane societies and animal shelters. “This year our drive has been lengthened by one week. Every year we increase the amount donated, thereby helping even more neglected animals. Still, this year we will strive to surpass last years’ collection,” said Geoffrey Webb, director of marketing.
Earlier this year, Rocky’s accepted the HCN 2013 Retailer of the Year Award from HCN during the Golden Hammer Awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
Sears Appliance & Hardware sets sights on smaller format
Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores has opened a new Sears Appliance & Hardware location in Dallas, Texas, that will mark the debut of a smaller-format store prototype for the brand — as well as a spate of new franchise opportunities.
Citing market research that favors the neighborhood hardware store model, the company announced last week that the Dallas store — which is the first new Sears Appliance & Hardware location to be built in the past decade — will set the standard for all new locations.
Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores CMO David Buckley explained to HCN that extra square footage isn’t necessary to be profitable in hardware, where convenience and customer-centric experiences are favored. Indeed, the additional rent is perhaps one of the biggest obstacles faced by independents and co-ops.
“Today’s retail landscape is comprised of mostly big boxes or more intimate neighborhood store experiences," said Buckley. "There aren’t many players in the middle still in business.”
The smaller model will offer a similar inventory, but in substantially less square footage (compare the original SAH model of 22-25,000 sq. ft. to the new version of 16-18,000 sq. ft.). Instead, a higher premium will be placed on showcasing best-sellers through a consultative sales process, while making items that are unavailable in the store easily ordered and delivered to the customer.
“You don’t have to have everything on the sales floor, but in the case of hardware stores, you need [project necessities] on-hand," said Buckley. "We’re able to offer a convenient and relevant hardware assortment, as well as an experience that’s differentiated from most hardware stores: one that’s more convenient and more centered around the customer.”
The new location in Dallas is owned by Dave Maggio and Michael Donohoe, who have previously purchased Sears Appliance & Hardware locations throughout the country.
"Though we saw a great need locally for a Sears Appliance & Hardware Store, there were no existing company-owned locations for us to acquire," said Maggio in a company release. "When we heard that Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores was interested in rolling out a smaller, neighborhood model, we knew this smaller version of the Sears Appliance & Hardware Store format would fill a void in the Northwest Dallas area. Our new store embraces the feel and customer service of a neighborhood hardware store, without compromising on the reach of our merchandise assortment."
The smaller, neighborhood model was first introduced a couple of years ago via a test-run of sorts at a converted store in Holland, Mich. In addition to the Dallas location, the new format is also moving to Big Rapids, Mich. and Cedar City, Utah, though the company is forgoing an aggressive expansion process.
"Although we have plans to open more stores, we also plan to do so responsibly to ensure we apply our learnings from each opening to maximize the investment of our franchisees and to deliver best in class service," SHOS DVP Rudy Mazak told HCN. "We think [the smaller format] is more appealing to franchisees: these stores have a very relevant hardware and tool assortment to complement our existing presence in lawn and garden and appliances."
Citing a lower initial investment, the company is currently seeking potential franchisees — whether independent or franchise business owners — to continue the expansion of its new Sears Appliance & Hardware Store format.