Big Four Report: More Voices from the Field
What’s new in hardware stores? Plenty.
The HCN Big Four Report, published in the July/August issue, included several comments from independent retailers who were interviewed during recent markets and conventions.
The general question was some variation of “What’s new in your store?” Here are more answers from the field, in no particular order:
"The economy has picked up, and we’re a contractor lumberyard. [The pickup in] remodeling really helped our business. We’ve been able to revamp our store and do some new merchandising, which is one of the reasons why we’re here at the Ace Hardware Convention."
— Carla and Pamela Giese, Ivey Lumber Sales, Dallas
“We’re expanding our current location. We do that with outside salespeople and more trucks and more drivers. Business is going great. Good things are happening.
"Also, we developed a software system called MVP, mobile vision pro, and we’re doing real well with it.
"It’s not a status quo mind-set. We’re always trying to improve."
— Chuck Pool, Main Street Lumber (Do it Best), Denison, Texas
"Paint! We were the first reset [of the Paint Studio format], I believe. So yeah, paint’s the biggest change right now."
— Mary Borello, Ace Thrift Supply, New Kensington, Pennsylvania
“We’re going to be building a new store, moving from our present location to a much more visible location. So we got some exciting things coming up. There’s a long story behind it. Few stumbling blocks, but it’s going to happen here.
"We’re going to make it more efficient, and the folks here at store planning are helping us dial in on that. Right size in the departments and the right size in the staff, and we have some ideas on what we’re going to grow in the store.”
— Dan Kanis, Nelson Agri-Center (True Value), Viroqua, Wisconsin
“We just opened. We’re first-time owners, and we just bought it five months ago. So we’re still learning. Buffalo, Missouri, has a population of 3,500.
“We’re looking for ideas to make it bigger and better. We’re just a hometown hardware store. Everybody who comes into our store are basically DIYers.
“The store has a strong nostalgia appeal. You can buy nails buy the pound, or by them buy the box, or buy just one. It doesn’t matter.”
— Tim Jasper, Buffalo Hardware (Orgill)
“We have a hardware, automotive, housewares, clothing, sports and guns. We’re more of a general store — Paul’s Discount Store. You can save some here [at the Orgill market] on the pallet buys. It helps a lot. We’re a little out of the ordinary. Our Orgill rep helps us with some of the ordering too. He’s kind of one of our buddies.”
— Ronald Lawless, Paul’s Surplus and Distributing, Somerset, Kentucky
"We rebranded to the family name — we had four stores that were sort of independent and now they’re under one name.
"Our sales associates got to invent their own titles. Every person got one, and it only costs about $15 to print a stack of 250 business cards. So we’ve got lots of cool job titles like ‘Truck Master J,’ ‘The Whistling Nut,’ ‘Network Emergency Repair Dude,’ ‘The Loud One,’ ‘Master and Commander’ and ‘Mind Wrestler.’
"It was sort of to celebrate our new rebranding, but also to encourage them to hand out their cards. When they have their own title, they’re throwing their business cards at their friends, their family, at customers because they’re so excited that it’s something that’s their own, and not some generic ‘sales associate’ title."
— Richard Hassett, "Culture Ninja" at Hassett Hardware (Ace), Half Moon Bay, California
“Business is up. We had a late start this year because of the weather. Now we’re here trying to take advantage of good buys to be more competitive.”
— Rod Metzel, Mayer Lumber Co. (Do it Best), Mayer, Minnesota
“I think there are better margins right now than there’s been in a long time. The margins look so much better than they did four or five years ago. Things are coming back, and I think wholesale prices have reduced some, and that helps get people in the door.”
— Ernie Potts, Potts Hardware (Do it Best), Drexel, Missouri
“I guess the biggest thing for us is our switch over to Orgill. We were previously with Handy Hardware. We came in and switched over in about a week. We had a few glitches here and there, but it wasn’t too bad. The main part is behind us. Next for us is we just try to increase sales.”
— Andy, R.H. McCrary Hardware, Winsboro, Texas
“People are pleased we have the new plumbing products. Watts Lines and Shark bites. They actually thank us for it.”
— Perry Yoder, Yoder’s True Value, Plain City, Ohio.
Golden Hammer Profile: First Alert
In the realm of home safety, reputation counts a lot. And with a 2014 Golden Hammer Award under its belt, First Alert is handily making its case as a recognized innovator — and even activist of sorts — in its field.
That’s because in addition to developing next-generation smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, First Alert also provides outreach to various organizations across the U.S., helping raise awareness of safety pitfalls and prevention techniques.
Additionally, it’s the self-proclaimed pioneer in residential smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
So where does the goal line lie in 2014? For one, First Alert is working to satisfy the demand for effective safety products with an eye for design.
"Consumers are seeking the latest life-safety technology while also looking for products that look good – driving a trend toward more streamlined profiles that blend beautifully into any home décor," said Tom Russo, senior director of marketing. "Gone are the days of clunky, white eyesores and here to stay are slim, streamlined designs like our Maximum Protection Alarm or our micro-sized ATOM."
Some other new exports include element-resistant safes with Ready-Seal technology, as well as the Safety POD, a device equipped with a dual-sensor alarm for a variety of applications such as protecting bags, sounding a panic alarm or using as a door alarm.
Additionally, First Alert’s been hard at work responding to new legislation that requires smoke alarms to be equipped with 10-year sealed batteries.
"As we head into a new era of the connected consumer, we’re also finding new, unexpected ways to innovate," said Russo. "We are driving the First Alert brand forward as we always have – through innovation and a philosophy that prioritizes the voice of the customer."
The above is one of a series of profiles recognizing this year’s Golden Hammer Vendor winners, to appear on HomeChannelNews.com and in HCN Daily. Thirty-one Golden Hammer Vendor winners were honored this year at the 2014 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.