Hardware Store Nation: The Top 25
They don’t make hardware stores like they used to. They make them better.
They’ve got to be better.
Today’s successful hardware store faces competitive threats unlike anything our grandparents faced. For starters, there’s a $100 billion, 2,000 store home center giant that earned $2 billion in each of its first three quarters of its current fiscal year. Then there’s the digital disruption from Amazon.
Let’s not sugar coat it. HBSDealer keeps track of hardware store closings, and they are common. And the common refrain in local newspaper “exit interviews” with former owners is competition from the aforementioned hastened their demise.
Still, from the independent owners and operators around the country — in phone interviews, at trade shows, during store visits — a different story emerges: Hardware stores are not endangered, they are energized. Here are some of their stories:
- Woydziak Do it Best lights up a small town.
- Carr Hardware takes home the Indie and talks growth.
- Center Hardware preserves a brand — and a culture — in San Francisco.
And those that are thriving, appear to be playing with the same playbook:
- Use your strengths. Hardware stores are nimble, friendly and convenient.
- Plant your flag in the community. Amazon, with all its warehouses, can’t duplicate that.
- Invest in your environment. Top performers invite customers to shop, not just pick up.
- You’re only as good as your people. The battle is taking place on the front lines, where customers interact with people on the floor. You won’t see many owners accepting an award while neglecting to credit these people.
Top 25 Hardware Stores
Ranked by estimated sales, the following list of “Hardware Stores” updates a previous version published in 2007, and uses information from the Top 300 Industry Scoreboard. For the purposes of tracking the hardware store sector, here are some defining features, to be used carefully:
Hardware Store noun
[ hahrd-wair • stohr ]
- Purveyor of home improvement products and advice.
- Operates in stores less than 60,000 sq. ft.
- Caters to homeowners, while embracing the pro contractor.
- Always evolving to meet community needs.
Fiberglass insulation demand will continue to rise
Demand for fiberglass insulation is forecast to grow 2.9% per year to 4.6 billion pounds in 2021, valued at $4.4 billion, according to a new study from the Freedonia Group.
In its new “Insulation Market in the US, 12th Edition” study, the Cleveland, Ohio-based research firm says fiberglass is projected to remain the most widely used insulation material due to favorable characteristics such as installation and handling advantages over other insulation materials; high R-values; and superior resistance to mold, moisture and insect damage.
Residential buildings are projected to be the fastest growing market and maintain the largest share of demand through 2021. Homeowners looking to increase energy efficiency through a a low-cost, high R-value solution for attic reinsulation and improvement projects are expected to help drive the market.
Demand for all types of insulation, excluding reflective insulation and radiant barriers, is forecast to rise 2.9% per year to 9.4 billion pounds in 2021, equal to 320 billion sq. ft. of R-1 value.
According to analyst Matt Hurley, “Fiberglass and foamed plastics together account for the bulk of demand (75% in volume terms), supported by advantages such as low cost, good performance qualities, and ease of installation.”
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Westlake goes to Washington (state)
Westlake Ace Hardware will acquire the Dennis Company, a five-store retail hardware chain in coastal southwest Washington. With this acquisition, expected to close in late March, Westlake will own 121 stores across ten states.
The Dennis Company has five locations in Washington: Aberdeen, Elma, Long Beach, Montesano, and Raymond. According to Westlake officials, it will be a seamless transition of ownership and the stores will retain the Dennis Company name, management, personnel, and the current product mix.
Upon acquisition, Dennis Company stores will become part of the Ace network, and will be a division of Westlake Ace Hardware.
The Dennis Company opened in 1905, and has been operated by four generations of Dennis family members. The Ace deal was arranged through the current Dennis co-owners, Brent and Randy Dennis.
“Westlake is a growing and vibrant brand,” said Joe Jeffries, president and COO of Westlake Ace Hardware. “We are excited to welcome the Dennis Company into the Westlake family, expand our relationship within the communities they serve, and continue their proud tradition of outstanding customer service.”
Westlake has followed a course of steady expansion in recent years. Most recently, Westlake expanded into Chicago with the acquisition of Buikema’s Ace Hardware.
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