Retailers share their secrets of success at NHS
Las Vegas — Four successful hardware and home center operators spent an hour on the Village Stage at the National Hardware Show on May 2 sharing their challenges, strategies and future plans with other event attendees. Ranging in size from three to 36 locations, the dealers varied in scope and location but shared common approaches to customer service, the vendor community and pricing.
One of the largest dealers in the group, Rocco Falcone of Rocky’s Ace Hardware, operates 33 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Florida. The family-owned operation has been in business for 85 years. “We service the hell out of our customers,” Falcone said. “The big boxes say they’re going to give good service, but they really don’t.”
Doug Gregory from Morrison Terrebonne Lumber in Louisiana spoke of the special handling his pro customers receive. “Our contractors are very dependent on our guys to help them run their business,” said Gregory, who recently partnered with CNRG. When asked about common misconceptions about his business, Gregory mentioned the perception that smaller independents charge higher prices.
Others agreed. “Our staff also believes that, so I get them out to price shop other stores,” said Ron Cicuttini, who represented three Home Hardware stores in Ontario.
Scott Parker, owner of 18 home centers primarily in Texas, pointed out that his outdoor lumberyards aren’t air conditioned, which lowers his cost of doing business. “We can be very competitive [on price],” he said. But Parker pointed out the necessity of variable pricing and the many factors that go into it.
“What we want to sell a product for is determined by the market, not what we want to sell it for,” Parker said.
All the retailers gave a shout out to their vendors, co-ops and distributors. “If you’re really loyal to your suppliers, they’ll reciprocate,” Cicuttini said. “That’s paid dividends for us.”
Cash mob offers help to Newtown Hardware House
A cash mob recently filled the aisles of Newtown Hardware House in Newtown, Pa., to help bail out the store, which has been suffering from the weak economy for four years, according to an article on Philly.com.
Owner Dave Callahan has been running the store for 27 years.
Local publicist Andy Smith’s organized the cash mob with a Facebook message that read: “Each ‘mobber’ is encouraged to spend about $20, although you can spend more if you wish. With spring here, there has to be $20 of stuff you need for around the house — grass seed, a tool, paint, etc.”
Facebook, Twitter and email helped spread the word.
Inventors enter Shark Tank
Las Vegas — New this year to the National Hardware Show was the Pitch Tank, where inventors got two minutes to demonstrate their new products to a panel of three experts for some criticism and advice. But there was no Simon Cowell skewering the amateurs in the glass-walled booth near the Inventor’s Spotlight section. Kevin Harrington of ABC’s Shark Tank and chairman of TVGoods, along with two other product development specialists and marketers, offered mostly positive feedback to a cavalcade of hopeful candidates.
The inventors of Tape Ease admitted there were already a number of tape measures on the market — but none of them came with a rubber end hook that clips on to pipes, lumber and masonry. This accessory fits on any standard 1-in. tape measure.
“Did you bring it to Stanley?” Harrington asked.
The answer was yes. But Stanley wanted to see some retail sales first. Harrington referred the inventor to a business associate at the show who handles licensees. “Get some sales first and then go back to Stanley,” Harrington said.
The panel really liked “Dot marks the spot,” a stick-on device that greatly simplifies hanging photos, shelves and other objects.
“That’s pretty cool,” said Steve Rogai, also from TVGoods. But he worried that consumers might have a hard time understanding how the product works. “Once they do,” he added, “it’s eureka!”
The panel advised the inventors, a married couple named Susan and Grillo, to consider lowering the price points.
“They seemed like they were very impressed and they asked a lot of questions, which was helpful,” Susan Grillo said after the session.
The Pitch Tank will hold an awards ceremony for the best inventions at the NRHA Village Stage on May 3, the last day of the show. The first place winner will receive a two-minute informercial product deal with Harrington’s company, TVGoods.