Hardware Store All-Stars: Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire
HCN congratulates the 50 hardware store, home center and farm and 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, continuing this week with Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Vermont: There’s a Home Depot 22 miles in either direction of J & H Hardware Do it Best in Bellows Falls, Vt. But manager Jeremy Haskins is quick to point out his real competition: “Taxes.”
“We’re right on the border of New Hampshire, so our real competition is tax,” he told HCN, referring to his border state’s tax-free sales environment.
Haskins, who was a 2011 Young Retailer of the Year honoree from the National Retail Hardware Association, says the store’s focus is on service first, and product mix second. The store has grown from 3,400 sq. ft. to 12,000 over the past few years, and a healthy sporting goods department attracts footsteps.
“My goal is to allow you to walk in and get everything to do your project,” he said. “We have more than 3,000 loyalty card holders, and we’re even adding them in New Hampshire,” he said.
Maine: As if a 30% increase in sales weren’t enough, the recent remodel at Ames True Value Hardware & Supply in Wiscasset helped owner Wayne Averill further tailor his offerings to meet the needs of the local farm & ranch community. Of course, promising numbers aren’t the only thing that sends this location to the all-star ranks: Averill is an active community member who sponsors the Sheepscot Valley Family Festival, and he’s got a relatively large social media following thanks to his savvy use of the internet.
New Hampshire: Billed as the place that has everything you need, Goffstown Ace Hardware (in Goffstown, N.H.) combines market knowledge with a personable flair. If you’re on Facebook, you can follow the antics of store employees and rack up inspiration for seasonally appropriate DIY projects. Bonus points for getting involved with PutnamFuel’s More Energy for Family Moments outreach campaign, which invests in the Salvation Army as well as the surrounding community.
For the full state-by-state list of HCN Hardware Store All Stars, click here.
Do it Dollars help spread the wealth
Indianapolis — In addition to merchandise and networking, the Do it Best Market included opportunities for the co-op to promote some of its key programs to its member base.
Chief among them is the co-op’s consumer-friendly rewards program called “Best Rewards. “If there’s one program for you to embrace in 2014, I hope that Best Rewards is at the top of your list,” said CEO Bob Taylor during his shareholders meeting address. “It’s that powerful.”
The concept of loyalty was also directed at members with a new program, encouraging them to boost buying through Do it Best — in addition to the annual rebate.
The Do it Dollars program rewards members with currency that applies to advertising programs, store redesign programs and travel to the market, among other business-building services, said Tim Miller, VP marketing. Members earn Do it Dollars by increasing year-over-over warehouse spending. A percentage of the delta is given back to the dealer in the form of Do it Dollars, redeemable for co-op services.
Armed with metrics, Do it Best points to strength
Indianapolis — During its annual shareholders meeting, Do it Best Corp. CEO Bob Taylor and chairman of the board Tom Lamberth leaned on a variety of statistics to describe the state of the co-op.
Most metrics were in the positive column, with annual gross sales up 4.4% to $2.80 billion, compared with $2.68 billion in 2012, which had an extra week on the calendar. (The co-op’s fiscal year ended June 29.)
Executives also emphasized the growth of the annual member rebate. Total member rebates for 2013 were $116.4 million, the tenth consecutive year of rebates in excess of $100 million.
The co-op adjusted downward, however, its number of dealer locations, partly the result of adjusting its definition of a retail location, the co-op said. The latest tally of retail locations where consumers can walk in and buy products is “more than 3,800.” Do it Best had recently described its store count as “more than 4,000,” which included a large number of industrial and commercial desks. The move was described as an effort to improve clarity and accuracy.
During the October Market, which ended Oct. 21, the Do it Best team was armed mostly with stats heading in positive directions.
Fill rates were 97.3%, on-time delivery was measured at 98.2%, and expenses were down 5.5%, the co-op said. Of particular note was a statistic that measured operating expense ratio: 1.87% after inventory capitalization, allowing for “the best in the industry rebate,” said Taylor, and also allowing the co-op to distribute back to its members 63 cents of every dollar of gross profit.
On the lumber and building materials side of the business, lumber sales increased 32.7%. Sales through distribution were down 2.7%.
Another worthy statistic measured the number of dealers — five — that received end-of-year rebates in excess of $1 million. They were: Parker Do it Best Lumber, Beaumont, Texas; Alamo Do it Best Lumber Co., San Antonio; Runnings, Marshall, Minn.; RP Lumber Co., Edwardsville, Ill.; and Meek’s the Builder’s Choice, Springfield, Mo.
Each received checks ranging from $1 million to more than $1.7 million.