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Innovation on tap in Las Vegas

BY Ken Clark

For the first time, this year’s National Hardware Show will feature more than 1,000 new products and inventions in a special Innovation Station display area located off the main show floors.

"We know that retail and wholesale buyers are very interested in the latest products and line introductions, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible for buyers to see these products in one easy-to-shop location," said Sonya Ruff Jarvis, VP attendee programs with the National Hardware Show, slated for Las Vegas May 1 to 3.

The Innovation Station area will house:

• The New Product World display, which spotlights hundreds of new products from the industry’s leading manufacturers.

• The Inventor’s Spotlight, where attendees can get an inside look at what may be the next big product or service in the industry. This year, the Inventor’s Spotlight section at the National Hardware Show will also be co-located with Pitch Tank, which will give inventors the opportunity to pitch their breakthrough business concepts and products to Kevin Harrington, Investor Shark on ABC’s "Shark Tank" and chairman of TVGoods, and Steve Rogai, CEO and co-founder of TVGoods.

• Green Product World, which allows retailers to keep up with the growing demand for environmentally friendly products and gather information on the latest in green, eco-friendly and sustainable products that today’s consumers are looking for. Along with these exciting highlighted areas within the Innovation Station, the National Hardware Show will feature its New Product Launch Spotlight area in the central concourse adjacent to the NRHA Village and Stage.

• The New Product Launch Spotlight area features a host of items that are truly brand new to the industry, have not yet hit the market and have no pre-negotiations, pre-sales and no distribution exclusivity.

"By providing areas that are designated to spotlight new products, we hope it will make it even easier for show attendees to see the latest and greatest innovations that manufacturers have brought to the show and provide exhibitors with an even more productive way to launch and showcase their newest offerings," Jarvis said.

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It’s official: Menards plans megastore for Kentucky

BY HBSDealer Staff

Menards, the third largest chain of home improvement stores in the U.S., will open a 200,000-sq.-ft.-plus store in Owensboro, Ky., this spring, according to an article in the Messenger Inquirer. It will be the Eau Claire, Wis.-based retailer’s first store in the state of Kentucky.

A spokesman for the company could not give an exact opening date, but the concrete for the parking lot has already been poured, according to the article. The store will be part of Heartland Crossing, a 67-acre shopping center that includes 16 lots for restaurants, banks, offices and a hotel.

After concerns were expressed over the project from neighbors and local businesses, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet agreed on a new plan that includes major improvements to a nearby highway and access ramps.

Menards now has four distribution centers and operates 263 stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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HIRI gets down to business in Arlington

BY Ken Clark

The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) will return to Arlington, Va., for its annual Spring Conference geared toward professionals seeking home improvement data and ways to use it.

One of the new twists for the upcoming April 18 event at the DoubleTree Hotel Crystal City by Hilton is the inclusion of a presentation from the U.S. Census Bureau on The American FactFinder data tool.

"The conference is a mixture of information and analysis, plus ways to access the data," said Fred Miller, executive director of HIRI. "For instance, the American FactFinder is a program that can answer a lot of questions, and it’s a free program."

The HIRI conference is offering an early-registration discount to members and non-members of the non-profit research group. The discount expires, however, on March 16.

The full lineup of presenters for the 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 event is as follows:

• Approaches to Estimating Market Size, IHS Global Insights;
• The Economic Outlook and Home Improvement Spending, IHS Global Insights;
• Housing and Mortgage Market Outlook, Mortgage Bankers Association;
• The American FactFinder – Access to Census Data, U.S. Census Bureau;
• The 2012 PPTS: Methodology in Evolution, TNS;
• The Pulse of Consumer Plans for Home Improvement, The NPD Group; and
• What Paths do Consumers Take Before Coming to a Decision, The Stephenson Co.

For more information, visit HIRI.org.

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