DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Do it Best expects growing market in Indy

BY Ken Clark

Attendance numbers are expected to increase at the Do it Best Fall Market in Indianapolis, which officially kicks off Oct. 13.

An early reading about five weeks ahead of the upcoming October market showed double-digit percentage increases in store attendance, and increases in total badges even higher.

“It’s a dramatic difference,” said CEO Bob Taylor. “We’ll have to see, but it’s a great early sign that maybe [the industry] turned a corner.”

Attendance at markets has been running flat or down in recent years. (“Keep in mind the years we went through,” Taylor said.) Attendance was down in May, even though actual business activity increased by about 8%, according to the co-op.

The October event will be the first without veteran executives Dave Dietz and Dave Haist, who retired officially over the summer, and who were replaced by new VP finance Doug Roth and new COO Dan Starr.

Taylor described the transfer as smooth.

“As much as you appreciate the contributions of guys like Dave Dietz and Dave Haist, the real tribute to both of them is that it’s a non-event,” he said. “They both have done such a great job in assisting with the transition. It’s been seamless.”

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True Value brings payment systems to forefront

BY Ken Clark

Expanding a credit card program while promoting a “stabilized” loyalty card program were among the payment system priorities the Chicago-based co-op presented during its Fall Market in Utah. 

The True Value Co. is asking members to sign up now for a credit card program it intends to launch in 2013.

“We want to launch this program with most of our stores live on the day we launch,” said CEO Lyle Heidemann. “The more stores we have on this program from the start, the more marketing we can put behind it.” 

The program features three new cards to be launched March 2013: a Discover co-branded card, a private label card and a commercial card. Earlier this year, True Value signed a long-term agreement with Alliance Data Systems Corp. to create and manage the programs. 

The cards will provide cash-back incentives. For instance, the co-branded card wil offer 3% back on all purchases in the store, 2% back on gas and grocery and 1% back on all other purchases. The private-label card will offer 3% back on True Value purchases, plus the ability to offer six months no interest plans. 

Blake Fohl, VP marketing and chief customer officer, told retailers that the co-op has made good on its pledge — made during the Spring Market — to stabilize the True Value Rewards program. The co-op also brought in Sue Smolenski as a new director of loyalty. Smolenski worked on airline industry loyalty programs in her previous job with United.

“While no technology is perfect, the platform today is stable,” Fohl said.

The program also shows clear benefits, he said. The average transaction for retailers enrolled in the rewards program was more than 11% higher than retailers not enrolled, he said.

The loyalty program cost for co-op members has been reduced dramatically for 2013, he said. Also, no functionality, including trade-area mapping, is in the works.

“You will be able to create pin maps of all of your customers who have made purchases in the last 12 months,” Fohl said.

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Ace employees, racing in heels, raise $3,800

BY Brae Canlen

A group of five Ace Hardware employees, wearing high heels and carrying purses, raced down a street in Grand Junction, Colo., on Sept. 20 to raise money for victims of domestic violence. The all-male group from Ace Hardware on the Redlands came in third place and won the “Golden Heel” award for raising the most money — $3,800 – during the annual “Men in Heels” fundraiser. Proceeds benefited Latimer House, a local shelter for victims of domestic violence.

The money was raised through customer donations in the weeks preceding the event. Cashiers at the front register of the store, which is owned by Chris and Vicki Peterson, collected sums ranging from $1 to $100.

The five employees participating in the relay race were: Chad Jensen, Eric Whiting, Gerard Fetherston, TJ Kimball and Alan Felix.

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