DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

Do it Best springs into action in Indy

BY Ken Clark

Indianapolis — A "Results-Driven" and "Sales-Driven" program of education helped kick off the Do it Best May market here at the Indiana Convention Center, the twice-a-year home of the Fort Wayne, Indiana-based co-op's major markets.

"Driven" is the operative word here at the market, with "Driven to be the Best" serving as the overarching market theme. The market also marked the debut of the co-op's new paint destination department — The Color Bar. "Why paint? Because paint cotinues to be a key differentiator for driving consumer traffic into stores," said Nick Talarico, the co-op's VP of sales and business development.

The paint category has the added benefit of being relatively insulated from the consumers' shift to online shopping, he said.

The debut of The Color Bar follows last year's introduction of new and improved color selectors, and a new look with the private label Do it Best paint brand, Best Look. "We needed to do more," said Talarico. "Selling paint is not about selling cans, it's about selling color."

The new Color Bar is equipped with a number of features designed to sell colors. In additon to various specialized end caps, it has a side-by-side Best Look paint comparison display, a color-inspiration flip book and a design that's friendly to scalability, cross merchandising and female shoppers. (On that last point, the design includes a color trends desk area, replete with a hook to hang a customer's purse.)

From the power of paint, the co-op's kickoff transitioned to the power of marketing in a digital age. VP of Marketing Rich Lynch described the importance of getting the marketing mix right, and at the right time. 

"If a customer Googles your business right now, do you know what comes up? You better know, it better be right, and it better be good," Lynch said. He added that not all weeks on the calendar are equal, when it comes to marketing. And the important thing is to win the weeks that matter most.

He urged members to participate in the co-op's Best Rewards program, which can provide the data needed to identify those crucial weeks and weekends of sales. Those who don't participate may be "flat out missing an opportunity to be a better marketer," Lynch said.

Dealers in Indianapolis were also urged to recognize that the future is now, when it comes to improving, expanding and growing.

"Growing the business really is everybody's business," said CEO Dan Starr, alluding to the idea that the competitive landscape requires change and adaptation — whether that's expanding the store, boosting marketing, or learning how to be a better dealer. "If you're waiting for the perfect time to grow your business, stop waiting, because the time is now."

In-depth presentations on "The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up," and  "Street Fighter Marketing: Pulling in Customers without Breaking the Budget" were prominent on the menu of educational sessions.

The co-op's market runs through May 22.

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Ace rolls out new financing program

BY HBSDealer Staff

Ace Hardware is making moves to further encourage members to build and expand.

Under a new financing program for Ace Hardware store owners announced on Friday, members will now be able to receive up to $200,000 in a dollar-for-dollar equity match loan for opening a new ground-up store or acquiring a competitor’s store.

These loans can be repaid immediately using the owner’s existing Ace Hardware Corporation stock or over time using future non-cash patronage distributions (rather than with cash). Ace store owners are exclusive shareholders of the company, and a percentage of all wholesale goods purchased by a store through the Ace supply chain is returned to the owner each year in a patronage dividend. This amassed stock can be used to repay the loan, allowing Ace stores to leverage the equity of their existing stock to boost their growth.

“With this exciting announcement, Ace Hardware store owners now have even more resources to help them achieve their goals of expanding their businesses,” said Dan Miller, Vice President, Retail Operations and New Business, Ace Hardware Corporation. “In the last three years, new ground up stores at Ace have reported a nearly 99% success rate, and the average store is yielding sales per square foot of $138/ft. in their first year – it’s an exciting time to be growing with Ace.”

The new financing program is available to qualified, existing Ace owners with two or more stores, and all Pinnacle-achieving Ace retailers, both single-store and multi-store owners.

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Strasser True Value celebrates 100 years

BY HBSDealer Staff

Kansas City-based Strasser True Value recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary with the biggest sale in its history.

The retailer celebrated 100 years on the occasion of its anniversary this past May 6.

Additionally, Strasser held its 10th annual Tool Sale in April, netting a $100,000 bump in sales over last year. This was the largest Tool Day in the store's experience, owing in part to heavy promotion in local radio, TV and print advertising, with the addition of social media outreach.

“We were thrilled to support Strasser’s 100 year anniversary event," said Brian Barbour, National Account Manager True Value, Milwaukee Tool. "The loyalty Strasser’s has built in the Kansas City market is second-to-none, so it is no wonder they have been able to thrive for so long. Their event is always well attended and has helped us to build a tremendous partnership!”

Co-owner Leroy Andrews and his son Travis made sure to provide a full tool assortment that appealed to its wide array of customers, which span contractors, pro users and DIYers.

"It was such an honor to be a part of such a historic event at Strasser’s True Value," said Chandra Stoupa, National Account Manager True Value, Stanley, Black & Decker. "Travis made this event very special with incredible deals to say thank you to their customers. It is so rare to find the family atmosphere that you find at Strasser’s. I am blown away by the number of customers they know by name. This level of customer service is what got them to 100 years as a retail icon in Kansas City, and no doubt will take them to 200."

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