HARDWARE STORES

NAHB encouraged by 7.2% March starts improvement

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The National Association of Home Builders is somewhat encouraged by the 7.2% increase in housing starts for March. 

Coming on the heels of disappointing declines in February, March results released by the Department of Commerce showed gains in both the single- and multi-family sectors, and was mirrored by substantial improvements in building permit issuance for the same period.

"While the overall rate of new-home production remains quite low and is still being weighed down by significant uncertainties among both home builders and buyers, this latest report is encouraging," said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Reno, Nev. "It means that some builders are cautiously beginning to re-stock their extremely thin inventories of new homes in anticipation of gradual improvement in consumer demand as the economy slowly inches toward recovery."

"The modest improvement in new-home production and permitting in March is in line with our forecasts for incremental gains through the spring buying season," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "While our builder members continue to experience a great number of challenges with regard to competition from foreclosed and short-sale properties, low appraisal values and tight credit conditions, they have noted slight improvements in interest among qualified buyers, and they need to be ready to meet the demand as it materializes."

Gains in new-home production were seen across the board in March, with upward movement registered in both the single- and multi-family sectors, as well as three out of four regions. On the single-family side, a 7.7% gain to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 422,000 units partially offset a big decline in the previous month. Multi-family starts also gained back a portion of the ground they lost earlier, with a 5.8% increase to 127,000 units.

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Moore Hardware to close

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Moore Hardware, a 90-year-old hardware store in Morristown, N.J., is going out of business, according to an article in the Star-Ledger.

Owner Dan Sweeney blamed a number of factors, including the recession, competition from big-box stores and the slow real estate market.

“The loss of customers I’ve experienced in the last three years is unparalleled to anything I’ve seen,” Sweeney told the newspaper.

Other recent closings of area independents listed in the article are Englishman Hardware in Ramsey, N.J.; Point Hardware in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.; Goodman’s Hardware in Fair Lawn, N.J.; and Mendham Hardware in Medham, N.J.  

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Westlake Ace Hardware named Retailer of the Year

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Lenexa, Kan.-based Westlake Ace Hardware, one of the country’s leading independent hardware retailers and a company reaping the benefits of a top-to-bottom reevaluation, has been named "2011 Retailer of the Year" by Home Channel News

The company will accept the award May 11 at the Golden Hammer Awards breakfast event in Las Vegas, held in conjunction with the National Hardware Show. 

The 88-store Midwestern hardware retailer revamped its structure, its focus and even its mission statement as part of its Project North Star program. 

"Westlake Ace Hardware has been known throughout the industry as a great operator," said Ken Clark, editor in chief of Home Channel News. "And the company’s pursuit of excellence through Project North Star is one of the bright examples of leadership in hardware retailing today."

The wide-ranging strategic initiatives of Project North Star include an increased focus on home repair and maintenance, the creation of a specialized lawn and garden merchandising division, updated paint and tools departments, and a tagline of "Small projects. Big know-how. Ask away."

The company’s Project North Star began with strategic planning back in 2009 and led to the development of a clear, steady vision for the company, according to CEO George Smith. "All of these things working together have had a very positive impact on our business," Smith said.

The Golden Hammer Awards breakfast event will also include the Home Channel Hall of Fame induction of Larry Stone of Lowe’s. For more information about the event, contact Home Channel News

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