Charity, tailgating and new products merge at NHS
The National Hardware Show revealed its charitable side this week as a stage for awarding the Sears “traveling toolbox” to Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas non-profit and preferred charity of the National Hardware Show. The charity serves people with intellectual disabilities.
The show also served as a stage for award-winning products across a diverse range of categories.
TV star and home improvement guru Ty Pennington told a standing room-only crowd gathered around the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) Village Stage that he and his sponsors at Sears learned about Opportunity Village through the National Hardware Show. “We think this is a great cause that really embodies the `Do It Together’ message, so Sears is providing them with a fully stocked toolbox and some other materials.”
Accepting the donation was Laura D’Amore, director of sales at Opportunity Village, who said, “The National Hardware Show has transformed our thrift store over the last two to three years and brought a whole new awareness in the community with their donations to Opportunity Village.”
The wide range of awards presentations this week included Hardware Retailing’s Top Guns, which included a panel discussion offering advice to independent retailers, and the Retailer’s Choice Awards, which allowed retail judges to search the show floor for the products they thought had the best sales potential in their stores.
Winners included Click & Seal by Fluidmaster, Happy Feet by Happy Feet and Spotless Goddess by Boston Warehouse.
Other awards presentations were the Lawn, Garden & Outdoor Innovation awards, whose winners were Leafcat LLC (gold); Nexgrill Industries (silver); Nature Power (bronze) and Bonide (honorable mention), and the Homewares Awards sponsored by HomeWorld Business and featuring Pet Top Products (gold); Brand Marketing & Distribution (silver); Batten Industries, Inc. (bronze) and The Fulhman Group (honorable mention). There were also the New Product Launch Spotlight Awards, with the gold going to Minute Key for Minute Key; silver to Generac Power Systems for the Propane Portable Generator; bronze to Bell Hudson LLC for the Infrared Heater with Remote; and Honorable Mention to Simple Man for the Spyder Bore Blade.
“We are big believers in product innovation,” said Helen Cattaneo, senior vendor manager for Amazon.com’s Tools & Home Improvement store and a judge for the New Product Spotlight Awards. “We have learned from our customers that they are interested in a new selection that stands out and simplifies their lives, as many are early adopters of trends and technology."
The day’s activities also included the second annual Facebook Party sponsored by Organize.com and the Tailgate party in the outdoor Tailgate Pavilion featuring live music, food and free beer courtesy of Corona Beer, the new Official Beer Sponsor of the National Hardware Show.
Corona also distributed logoed T-shirts at the event, while Allegro Foods handed out samples of brisket, chicken and catfish, as well as 300 samples of marinade. In addition, the party featured the presentation of Tailgater Monthly Magazine’s Gameball Awards to Black Top, Cool Cups and Extreme Cooler — each of which received a Wilson Official NFL “The Duke” leather football.
Another highlight of the Tailgate Pavilion was the sweepstakes, which awarded such prizes as two tickets to a Kenny Chesney Concert — courtesy of Corona — a Char-Broil grill, 12 Tervis Tumblers and more.
Chris Matthewson, national sales manager for Jarden Sports Licensing, introduced the new TLG8 line of NFL- and MLB-licensed products in the Tailgate Pavilion this year and was pleased with the show traffic. “Tailgating is a very important category, and we will be adding more products going forward,” Matthewson said. “It’s really grown as a category and is gaining momentum here at the Show and at retail.”
Retailers wield the Golden Hammer in Las Vegas
Westlake Ace Hardware and Price Hardware True Value were recognized for excellence during the 2011 Golden Hammer Awards ceremony held at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.
George Smith, CEO of Lenexa, Kan.-based Westlake Ace Hardware accepted the Retailer of the Year award. John Price accepted the Tools of the Trade award for Price Hardware True Value of Atlanta, Texas.
The two diverse retailers — Westlake operates 88 stores, while Price is a single unit — participated in a panel with Craig Cowart, executive VP and chief merchandising officer of Marvin’s Building Materials and Home Centers, the 2010 Home Channel News Retailer of the Year.
All three companies stress customer service as a competitive advantage in their markets, while Westlake recently launched a company-wide training around the concept of GREAT service
“We created a video that shows good service, bad service and [mediocre] service, and showed it to everyone," Smith said. "It was an ‘aha’ moment.”
Store design factors heavily into the service equation at the 27-store Leeds, Ala.-base Marvin’s, according to Cowart, including a centralized service island. “We tried to work around our mission statement of making customers’ lives easier. The result was a meld of a big box with a hometown feel.”
“Every new store we go through we rationalize SKU by SKU," Cowart said. "Everything is on the table to look at. It’s tough on the merchants, but we’ve gotten a lot more efficient doing more with less.”
In Atlanta, Texas, Price Hardware is benefitting from a recent conversion to the Destination True Value format and also the creation of a store-within-a-store Kitchenette, a high-end kitchen and housewares department run by John’s wife Carol Price.
"Before the housewares remodel, kitchen utensils and toasters were my idea of what a housewares department was," Price said. "But I finally saw what this could be; it was gourmet and it has brought a strong female focus to our store."
Regarding the macroeconomic conditions, Cowart said: “People who have weathered this storm are the ones to contend with.”
Price said he has seen a slight increase in large-ticket items. “I think the economy will get better," he added.
Hardware Store All-Stars: Conn., Del. and Fla.
Continuing the state-by-state unveiling of hardware store all-stars, here are three more retailers selected by the editors of Home Channel News:
Killingworth True Value
Since gracing the cover of the Home Channel News March 2010 issue, Killingworth True Value president Jackie Cost has seen the word get out about the store’s major renovation. She’s also seen community involvement increase. Case in point, the Killingworth Youth and Family Services division sets up a tent at all of the store’s outdoor special events. Coming up this month: a Mow and Grow event with Husqvarna and Jonathan Green grass seeds.
Rommel’s Ace Hardware
Rommel’s Ace Hardware operates 11 locations on the East Coast, including three in Delaware — Dover, Seaford and Selbyville. The retailer is a part of Rommel Holdings, whose varied interests include four Denny’s restaurants and a Skateland roller skating rink. The motto is clear: “We can get you in, get you help, and get you on your way in 15 minutes or less.”
Sunshine Ace Hardware
Sunshine Ace has six locations in South Florida, but the downtown Naples store is unlike any of the others, said store manager Sherry Kish. Walk into the sporting goods area and you see a very large fishing boat. Above the boat is a mangrove and beside the mangrove are two large murals depicting the area. And all around, the store uses a cinnamon, beige and green color scheme to hammer home the one-of-a-kind impression.
Coming on Monday, all-stars from Georgia, Hawaii and Idaho.