DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

For stores on the block, Ace launches listing service

BY Ken Clark

A new online tool from Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware is designed to help retailers sell a hardware store or find an existing retail space.

The website — hardwarestoresforsale.com — launched in mid-February as a listing service for "all convenience hardware retailers, no matter their affiliation." 

“The new ‘Hardware Stores for Sale’ website provides an affordable avenue for retailers to list their businesses, as well as a vetted outlet to search for prospective growth opportunities in desired business expansion markets,” said Tom Knox VP retail and business development, Ace Hardware Corp. 

Retailers listing a store location on the site have two options: a six-month listing for $295 or a one-year listing for $495.

To protect the identity of the store, site listings are “semi-blind” with only the state, major  metropolitan area and some general information about the store displayed. Only qualified, prospective buyers are presented to owners listed on the site, according to Ace.

A second phase of the website, “the marketplace,” will launch later in the spring. The marketplace component will provide an outlet for retailers to buy and sell gently used retail equipment and fixtures at an extremely nominal price.

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How much credit should be given to the co-op business model for the success of the independent hardware and building supply dealer over the last half century?
DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

True Value rolls out credit card with rewards

BY Ken Clark

After completing the planning and the soft launch, True Value Co. plans to launch its credit card program for consumers in stores beginning March 7.

The True Value Discover Card will officially launch March 7 with the enticement of a $10 off-the-next-purchase deal for those who apply. But the bigger benefit is the rewards that accrue over time. Consumers get 3% back for purchases made at participating True Value stores, 2% back for purchases of gas and groceries, and 1% back on all other purchases. 

March 7 also marks the launch of the Commercial Credit Card, the Taylor Rental credit card, the Grand Rental Station card and the Home & Garden Marketplace card. 

WIth the launch, True Value joins rival co-ops in the field of in-store credit card finance.

The Ace Rewards Visa Card issued by U.S. Bank, which offers a similar reward structure, with the addition of points towards Ace Rewards. Do it Best offers a private-label card through Shoppers Charge Accounts Co. 

More than 1,600 True Value stores have signed up to offer the credit card program.

At the True Value Spring Market in Atlanta, CEO Lyle Heidemann described the program as an important step for retailers that is offered to them free. 

"We soft launched this program in 75 stores the past two weeks with no glitches," said Heidemann. "I actually applied and was accepted for a co-branded card. It was easy and took less than two minutes to apply."

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Ace launches Supply Place for B2B sales

BY Ken Clark

Pointing to the importance of business-to-business sales, Ace Hardware launched a new brand for small business supply customers.

The new brand is called "The Supply Place, Powered by Ace." It is designed to attract sales among customer types including schools, churches, restaurants, apartment managers and general contractors. The co-op believes a separate brand that speaks directly to business customers will aid a store’s ability to reach this market segment, which spends more than the normal DIY customer ($47 vs. $20 on average).

The program includes a certification process for all Ace retailers that want to use the Supply Place brand. In addition to the new brand, the program includes an e-commerce component that will allow stores to manage the pricing and the relationship with their small business customers.

The co-op pointed to the importance of end caps that promote a store’s ability to supply business customers. Among the optional endcaps — Gojo Hand cleaners, Clorox bleach, WD-40, and florescent tube lighting.

According to John Venhuizen, who will step into the role of CEO at the end of March, a common denominator of a successful and lucrative Ace stores is "a meaningful portion of sales from small business. Retailers who take advantage of the business-to-business opportunities are winning," he said. 

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