Hardware Store All-Stars: Alaska, Hawaii and California
HCN is once again congratulating 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, starting here in the West with Alaska, Hawaii and California.
• California: The subject of a fiercely loyal customer base in the East Bay area, Pete’s Ace Hardware in Castro Valley illustrates the value of strong leadership. Owners Linda and Jeff Roark have seen to it that their customers find everything they need upon entering their store, including exotic services such as dog training for the disabled and a Rent a Husband service for in-home fixer-uppers. Moreover, Linda (who took over the family business from her father) was honored as the top businesswoman in her community – and still, somehow, manages to find time to make lunch for her employees.
• Hawaii: There’s nothing like a store with a niche, and Lahaina Ace Hardware serves the creative side of its community well with two dedicated art supply aisles. The requisite friendly staff with reliable camping know-how puts a crowning touch on a store serving the islanders’ needs.
• Alaska: Anchorage True Value Hardware does more for its namesake city than its neighboring big-boxes, and that’s good news for the mom and pops of the world. Customers cited the helpful, knowledgeable staff as the primary factor that keeps them loyal, as well as the store’s actual point-of-sale loyalty program.
Washington, Oregon and Idaho profiles will be published Friday. For the full list, click here.
High-hopes for farm, ranch and pet
True Value’s Kevin Rewerts, divisional VP of merchandising for automotive-pet-farm & ranch, said the co-op’s five-year plan to grow the farm-and-ranch-and-pet business by $100 million is on track.
In an interview with HCN, Rewerts added that the pet division is taking on a retailer’s-best-friend role at the co-op, and has emerged as the fastest growing category at True Value.
“We’re seeing very high double-digit increases in pet,” Rewerts said, pointing to increases in both the number of dealers getting into pet and the number of dealers adding shelf space to existing pet-related assortments.
“Our best members carry pet and use pet as a focal point of their store,” he added.
Some 300 new pet brands are available to True Value dealers, including dog food brands Royal Canin and Iams. The company also rolled out is own private-label True Value brand – Pet Expert dog food and dog treats. It was launched June 16 after about eight months in the making.
When he did his own product testing of the treats, Rewerts says dogs in his neighborhood “gobbled them up like candy.”
While the pet category brings hardware stores into competition with some big national chains, Rewerts says the projected $60 billion industry has no single dominant channel. Therefore, independents have an opportunity to break in.
“Most people who buy from retailers buy from two or three retailers for their pet needs,” he said.
Pet not only drives traffic into the store, he said, it leads to incremental purchases. “That’s why the hardware channel is loving this business,” Rewerts said.
The Chicago-based co-op has three years remaining on its five-year, $100 million, farm-and-ranch growth plan.
Ace breaks ground for Ohio distribution center
A groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday drew representatives from Ace and local business leaders to the site of a future retail support center in West Jefferson, Ohio.
The co-op expects the 500,000-sq.-ft. facility to be completed in July 2014. The facility will essentially replace an older facility currently operating in Toledo.
“Ace is pleased to break ground on this state-of-the-art facility,” said Rick Whitson, VP retail support, Ace Hardware Corp. “Our new Retail Support Center in West Jefferson will play an integral part in Ace’s overall supply chain, carrying as many as 16,000 different products to supply hundreds of Ace retailers and, in turn, serve thousands of consumers.”
The co-op operates 14 retail support centers.
The West Jefferson facility will serve Ace Hardware retail locations throughout Ohio, parts of Michigan, Eastern Indiana and Northern Kentucky. It will also employ approximately 100 Ace team members locally.
The warehouse will have the capability to expand by more than 280,000 sq. ft. to meet future growth needs. The facility will be furnished with 84 dock doors, as well as power equipment that will run by hydrogen fuel cell technology.