Stacking it high, letting it fly
If there’s one lesson to take away from the tales of small (but effective) retailers, it’s that few businesses choose to operate in tight quarters. Moreover, success is often a matter of being in the right place at the right time: stores located in dense, urban areas are dealing with limited floor space and double the foot traffic. But when you lead your co-op in purchases per square foot, there’s something to be said about the impact of your overall merchandising strategy.
In the case of Watford City, North Dakota-based Badlands Do it Best Hardware and Oak Park, Illinois-based Dressel’s Hardware, efficiency is what’s on the table. Both have 5,000 sq. ft. or less to work with. Dressel's recorded warehouse purchases of $233 per sq. foot, and Badlands' figure was $388.
Of course, it certainly helps to be located in an affluent, densely residential suburb west of Chicago with little surrounding competition — or in the midst of the North Dakotan oil boom’s rampant building and population explosion.
It doesn’t automatically follow, however, that a prime location will draw in optimal performance. That takes know-how and a willingness to think small.
“We have a knack for picking up stuff people need that other people don’t carry,” said third-generation Dressel’s Hardware owner Robert Dressel. “I’ve been in the business long enough to know the difference.”
For the Illinois retailer, that means lots of orders in lawn and garden, as well as plumbing and electrical — the suburb is chock full of old buildings with old wiring.
In North Dakota, co-owner and store manager Laura Dodds says the oil boom has brought in a new type of customer, as well as a new product selection to go along. The store has gone from serving a primarily farm and DIY base to being a contractor hotspot with an entire aisle dedicated to supplying a large population that’s currently living in campers. Higher-quality brands are also on-hand to satisfy the needs of its pro customers.
That leaves us, then, with the question of the hour: what do their shelves look like?
For Dodds, an autofill ordering system, nearby storage buildings and dedicated department staff keeps order in the house, but shelves are stacked about 8 feet high, she says, with overstock on top.
“We depend a lot on special ordering for customers,” said co-owner and store manager Laura Dodds. “Obviously we’re small and we can’t stock everything, so we do depend on people coming in and giving us a heads up so we can order it for them. That keeps our inventory at a manageable rate without having to take up so much space.”
Minimizing in-store inventory seems to be the ticket for Dressel as well, though it doesn’t sound as though there’s an underutilized square foot in the store.
“Our shelves aren’t the neatest, but it’s organized enough that some things are just jammed in,” said Dressel (see photo). “We cram things close together and go way up high on our walls, and we put a lot of inventory into 4,500 sq. ft. We do utilize the Do it Best warehouse as much as we can because we do get two orders a week, so that makes it easier for us. We don’t have to store a lot.”
In the interest of efficiency, the secrets of the small and mighty can be summed up in one short sentence: Stock smart, sell smart.
With new website, Reliable gets down to business
Reliable Distributors introduced two new members and a brand new web site during its 2015 Management and Marketing Conference in Orlando, Florida.
The two new members of the Libertyville, Illinois-based buying and marketing group are The Islander Group from Mililani, Hawaii and Allcon Products/Hennix Group from Anaheim, California. In total, the company has more than 100 agricultural, hardware, lawn & garden and paint & sundry distributors from across the United States.
On Thursday evening, Presidential Awards were presented at the Opening Reception to acknowledge members and vendors for their outstanding commitment and leadership they provide the group. Honorees included:
• Inland Wholesale Hardware, Inc., George Ohlendick;
• Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, Mark Morton;
• Chapin International, Inc. – Steve Hickey, Dave Morse; and
• Seymour Midwest LLC – Chuck Yeager, Lucas Whalen
The annual Reliable conference is organized with pre-scheduled member and manufacturer meetings, with more than 110 brand of products represented during the two days of appointments. Eighteen new vendor programs have been added to this year’s slate of offerings. The members were introduced to 12 of the new vendors during the member meeting.
Reliable also unveiled a new and updated responsive website to the Members. The site is optimized for smart phone, tablet or computer screen.
“Improving the accessibility of the web site on various platforms will ensure the Members have immediate access no matter what device is available to them,” said Allan Meyer, president.
Guest speakers included, Brad Therrien, NATI North American Tool Industries; Pat Murphy of FunMobility;
Next year, Reliable Distributors will celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Emery-Waterhouse hosts event in Providence
Emery-Waterhouse, the hardlines and building materials distributor acquired by Ace Hardware a little more than a year ago, opened the doors to its annual trade show March 12.
“This show is an annual blockbuster,” said Charles Chibante, VP sales for Portland, Maine-based Emery-Waterhouse. “But this year, we are especially excited because the show has been designed primarily as a means for our customers to boost the profitability of their businesses. To that end, we’ve assembled a great mix of training and buying opportunities for our customers, and we’ll be teaming up over the next few days to help them create successful buying and selling strategies for their own stores.”
The event is being held at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. The show runs through March 14.
At the heart of Marketplace 2015 is the Emery-Waterhouse Retail Execution Area, where customers can view a variety of high-value product assortment displays, including such seasonal endcaps as deck and lawn repair, new impulse item product groupings, cleaning supply collections featuring traditional and green brands, and an all new housewares product line. Customers also have the opportunity to consult with Emery-Waterhouse representatives and work collaboratively with them to build and improve their store strategies and discuss winning marketing tactics.
“The Emery-Waterhouse REA is extremely organized, and this year has a nice assortment of seasonal items that made it super easy for me to plan six months of retail end caps in about 10 minutes,” said Matt Fritz of Dirlam Lumber located in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. “It’s always great to try something new and to have the Emery team to talk with about ways to increase my sales by increasing product visibility.”
Throughout the show, customers were able to view more than 300 new products from new vendors and from line extensions of existing product categories.
Emery-Waterhouse offers product assortments across all major categories ranging from hardware, tools, paint and sundries to lawn and garden supplies. Its leading brand partners include 3M, Bosch, DeWalt, GE Lighting, Minwax, Irwin, Lenox, USG, OMG Fastenmaster, Stanley Bostitch, Zinsser, Penofin, Purdy and more.