HARDWARE STORES

Naming names, award-winner points to advantages

BY Ken Clark

Knowing the customers name is part of the battle that you can win against larger competition.

That’s an insight from the playbook of McDaniel’s Do-It Center, the 2012 Golden Hammer “Tools of the Trade” Award winner.

Also when battling big boxes, it’s important to use brand names, said Brad McDaniel, owner of the store in Snohomish, Wash.

“When we found out the box stores were coming, one of the things that really helped us fight it was the brand names,” said McDaniel, during the Golden Hammer Retail panel in Las Vegas, held during the National Hardware Show. One of those names is Benjamin Moore, he said — “because people know that name.”

And speaking of names, knowing the customers’ names is a big part of the battle. “The advantage for us independents is we learn people names,” McDaniel said. “We know people’s families. Their dad shopped at the store, their grandfather shopped at the store. I have employees who have been with us a long time and know them; that also helps us in the fight.”

Bird feed and feeders has given the retailer a strong niche. “That’s one department that is totally recession-proof, and it’s something the boxes do a horrible job at,” he said.

“Another niche that does really well for us and is a little off the wall is the glass bottled soda, the old-fashioned soda,” he said. “We just keep expanding that area because it’s an excellent draw for customers for us. 

“We’re finding out the niches, learning customers names and also the old adage that 20% of your customers do about 80% of your business. We just really decided we’re going to focus on that 20% extra hard and really smother them. Meet them early at the store or stay later for them —  anything we can do to let them know we’re going to take care of them,” he added. 

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HDW to hold boot camp for young retailers

BY Brae Canlen

Hardware Distribution Warehouses (HDW), the Shreveport, La.-based distributor, is holding a five-day “boot camp” training program at its corporate headquarters to introduce younger generations to the hardware industry. Scheduled for July 16 to 20, the program hopes to address the implications of an aging work force by encouraging more young people to become hardware retailers. Attendees will have the opportunity to see how distributors and retail dealers work together, and gain a greater understanding of retail and manufacturing operations.

Kenneth Beauvais, CEO of Hardware Distribution Warehouses, said the goal of the training program is to create a pipeline of skilled workers. He explained that in recent years, many manufacturing and distribution companies have become “top heavy” with employees who have several years’ experience and are now eying retirement. “As an employee-owned company, we knew it was important to put into place a plan to replace our loyal and valuable employees as they retire,” Beauvais said.

Part of that plan includes the boot camp, which will expose different generations to all facets of the hardware industry, including distribution, sales, marketing and merchandising. “It is especially important for those second- and third-generation family dealers to expose their children, who are the future owners, to the opportunities within their store,” Beauvais said.

The HDW boot camp will focus on:

• Operations: Attendees will experience all aspects of operations, including warehouse, shipping and receiving.
• Sales: A territory manager will give an overview of sales operation and communication with dealers.
• Financial: Boot camp participants will look at an income and expense statement.
• Customer service: Customer service agents will demonstrate how they work with customers to process orders and credits.
• Merchandising: Attendees will learn how product orders originate and how warehouses are stocked. They will get to set up a display and learn about store gondolas.
• Marketing: Boot camp participants will get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how they work with dealers to creatively advertise and market products to their retail customers.

Deadline for registration is June 15, 2012. Applications are available at hdwinc.com. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance after June 30, 2012. Those selected will have all expenses paid, with the exception of the cost of travel to and from Shreveport.

Hardware Distribution Warehouses is an employee-owned company that serves as a complete retail source for independent hardware and lumberyards. HDW has distribution centers located in Greenwood, Miss., and Shreveport, La., and is a member/owner of Distribution America.

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Retailer gets his motor running

BY HBSDealer Staff

An Indiana hardware store gained some notoriety last week when a photo of a motorized barstool went viral on the Internet. But for the last three years, Hardware Plus, a Do it Best dealer in Osceola, Ind., has been making any number of unusual motorized vehicles, according to an article in the South Bend Tribune.

Owner Chris Hughes and his staff have strapped on motors — usually from power washers or lawn mowers — to anything you can sit on, including Lazy Boy recliners and toilets. Hughes said he got the idea from a motorized cooler he once saw at a trade show.

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