Amid storm, a sales surge
Here are three lessons learned from the West Coast storms this week: When it rains, it pours. Better safe than sorry. And retail is detail.
In the San Francisco Bay area and Silicon Valley, Eric Hassett of Hassett Ace Hardware came to grips with all three lessons during the state’s headline-grabbing deluge. There were reports of 12 inches falling overnight in some counties — high winds, widespread power outages and fears of mudslides.
In a state struggling through an intense drought, the term “atmospheric river” was thrown about by meteorologists.
Hassett operates five stores in Northern California, and the operation snapped into action on Wednesday, the day before the brunt of the storm hit.
“Because it has been so dry for so long, and because there was also a good wind push, there was a lot of concern of flash floods and fears about trees coming down,” Hassett told HCN. “At our stores, we saw upward of 4 inches in a 24-hour span in the North Bay. There were areas that saw up to 9 inches of rain.”
The Northern California storm was slow moving and easy to predict, giving the media a chance to broadcast the event — extremely effective advertising for Hassett Hardware and other home centers and hardware stores.
Another factor that led to exceptional sales last week was an earlier small storm about a week before the big one. “It was enough to remind people that drains back up,” Hassett said.
With media saturation , sales on Wednesday were running double a typical Wednesday, he said. Batteries were flying out of the store. Tarps and first aid kits were big sellers.
“It surprised me that people were very proactive,” he said.
Hassett rolled wheelbarrows to the front of the store to serve as make-shift bins, with flashlights and emergency kits. On a big chalkboard, he kept a “Storm list” checklist of emergency items.
On Friday morning, the storm had passed. What’s next?
“Mops and gutter repair,” he said. “And a lot of people found out that their sump pump doesn’t work anymore.”
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Strong month for NAICS 444
Lumberyards, hardware stores and home centers fared well in the most recent government report measuring monthly retail sales.
In the month of November, NAICS 444 businesses – building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers – showed 1.4% month-to-month gains on an adjusted basis, and 7.8% gains compared to a year ago.
The data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly sales report puts NAICS 444 near the top of the class in terms of growth. Of 13 major types of businesses tracked, only motor vehicle and parts dealers (up 1.7%) had a higher month-to-month increase. On a year-over-year basis, only nonstore retailers (up 8.7%) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (up 8.6%) surpassed growth at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers.
The figures above are derived from estimates adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes.
Across the entire retail landscape, the numbers were seen as an early gift in the eyes of the National Retail Federation.
Retail trade sales were up 0.7% from October, and up 4.9% above last year.
“Increasing wages combined with lower gas prices are providing retailers with an early holiday present this year,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “Every economic indicator is pointing toward a strong holiday season. Healthy November sales should provide momentum for an even stronger December as customers continue to seek out deals all the way to Christmas.”
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Hardware Store All-Stars: Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma
In a retail environment that’s so often transgenerational and longevity-oriented, there’s something to be said about staying power.
HCN’s fourth annual list of Hardware Store All-Stars recognizes hardware stores that have stayed in the family, weathered many storms and even expanded mightily beyond their initial outposts.
HCN Daily will profile the honorees, moving across the map of the United States from East to West — continuing this week with Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Nebraska: At 37 locations large across seven states, Mead Lumber contains multitudes. It’s also owned by multitudes — 400 employee owners, to be exact. In Nebraska City, a full array of services keeps the hub moving, including glass cutting, paint matching and project consultation. Mead is a Midwest powerhouse, with All-Star expectations.
Kansas: In the same location for the past 90 years, Strasser Hardware leads the market in power tools and Stihl equipment. At 40,000 sq. ft., this True Value All Star carries hard-to-find items in a format described as a sort of cross between home center and industrial hardware dealer.
Oklahoma: Fresh from its recent modernization, Gordon White Lumber is the ideal representation of a father-to-son transformation. The newest location of the six-unit company features a modern layout that brings customers directly to a wall of exclusive products.
For the full print issue feature and state-by-state list of HCN Hardware Store All-Stars, click here for the September digital edition.
I don't know how you get your
I don't know how you get your 50 state all stars for these articles or if the stores are vetted at all. The RI all star hardware store Damon's in Wakefield RI has been going out of business for the last few years. Full of empty peg hooks for so long, they finally called it quits this December. Whoever put them up for the article set up HCN to look silly, at least to any RI area Hdw industry people. Maybe next year, a personal visit to each winner would prevent this type of thing. Unfortunately, there are several stores in RI that would have been great picks, and they missed out on the publicity generated by your article.