HARDWARE STORES

Merit Distribution names new category manager

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Spartanburg, S.C.-based Merit Distribution Group hired Paul Van Noy as category manager, responsible for the direct management of vendor lines including sales growth, profitability and inventory rationalization.

"We are very pleased to have Paul joining the Lancaster team," said Mitch Jolley, CEO of the Merit Distribution Group. "As an industry veteran, Paul has a wealth of knowledge and expertise that will bring immediate benefits to our customers and vendors."

Merit operates the Lancaster, Merit Supply, Merit Trade Source and Marit Pro trade names.

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Before and after: Sears Appliance & Hardware gets right-sized

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The proliferation of the Sears Appliance & Hardware brand had been largely at a standstill for the past decade. That’s how long it had been since a new location had been built.

Before: Standing at 22,000 sq. ft. to 25,000 sq. ft., the standard SAH model was stuck in no man’s land in terms of the neighborhood hardware store/big-box binary. “Today’s retail landscape is comprised of mostly big boxes or more intimate neighborhood store experiences. There aren’t many players in the middle still in business,” said David Buckley, CMO of Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, which split from Sears Holdings about one year ago. Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores decided to roll out a smaller-format store prototype, beginning with the construction of a new location in Dallas.

At 16,000 sq. ft. to 18,000 sq. ft., the new model manages to be considerably smaller without losing any of its essential content.

After: The Dallas store is still hot out of the oven, but it’s already doing what well-performing mom-and-pops do best, which is live by the mantra of “less is more.” The new stores place a higher premium on showcasing bestsellers through a consultative sales process, while making items that are unavailable in the store easily ordered and delivered to the customer.

“You don’t have to have everything on the sales floor, but in the case of hardware stores, you need [project necessities] on-hand,” Buckley said. “We’re able to offer a convenient and relevant hardware assortment, as well as an experience that’s differentiated from most hardware stores: one that’s more convenient and more centered around the customer.”

Similar stores are cropping up in Big Rapids, Mich., and Cedar City, Utah.

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America’s favorite small business

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Plainview, N.Y.-based Trio Hardware won the Independent We Stand’s third-annual Indie Awards, which honors small businesses across the country as part of the organization’s advocacy efforts. 

More than 32,000 votes were counted for more than 250 businesses; 2,024 of them (10% of Plainview’s population) went to Trio Hardware, a fixture of its Long Island community for 50 years.

With its large amassment of votes placing the store squarely in the top 10, the rest of the work was left to a panel of judges, who deemed Trio Hardware worthy of the title. 

The store is the subject of fierce loyalty and community involvement among Plainview members, who rallied around it to defeat the proposed opening of a national big-box store nearby. They were also responsible for restocking its shelves after it was razed by a fire in 1996. 

In addition to the 2013 Independent We Stand Independent Small Business of the Year Award, the store will also receive $15,000 in prizes.

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