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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Ace unveils vision for Valspar

BY Ken Clark

New Orleans — With the ink still wet on the Valspar-Ace Hardware deal, Ace retailers got their first look at Ace’s vision for its Valspar paint departments. The vision includes a pair of endcaps and 8-ft. color displays featuring Clark & Kensington on one side and Valspar on the other. In between the rests a counter, mixing equipment and an overhead "Color comes home" message.

Valspar and Ace employees were busy answering questions, showing colors and generally promoting the new program, which is expected to deploy in October. They also spread the word of Clark & Kensington’s No. 1 ranking in the recent Consumer Reports article on interior paint. 

The deployment will precede a marketing effort — a paint grand opening — that Ace VP paint John Surane, described as "our biggest national event ever." Surane also raised the goal for Ace paint — to reach 10% market share in 10 years, double its current share.

Retailers on the floor who spoke to HCN ran the gamut from those who embrace the change enthusiastically, to those who want to stay with their existing brands, notably Benjamin Moore.

Incentives are in place to reset the stores, both in terms of product and fixtures. And Ace says that with Valspar it will have a national brand partner with all of the national marketing support that comes with it. It will also allow stores to operate with a single tint machine.

"We as a team recognize that there are a thousand scenarios out there in your paint department," said Surane, speaking at the convention’s general session. "We’re ready to work with you on that."   

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