House-Hasson moves to virtual market format
House-Hasson Hardware announced that it will conduct a virtual dealer market in place of its normal in-person summer gathering of vendors, customers, and company staff.
The switch is designed to safeguard market attendees during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to House-Hasson President and CEO Don Hasson.
The distributor said that dealers and vendors will conduct their summer 2020 product buying and sales specials online and speak to each other and House-Hasson staff via video chats on June 25 and 26.
During the COVID-19 pandemic House-Hasson noted that it has been shipping record amounts of products to its 2,500 independent hardware store and lumberyard dealers, and the virtual market will enable dealers to remain at home to prepare online for the fall selling season.
“Our focus is dealer profitability, and their activity is off the charts,” Hasson said. “We are up 20% year-over-year. Hardware stores and lumberyards are essential businesses, with things people need, and they’ve generally have been busier in the last several months than at any time in their history.”
According to Hasson, “some competitors have even stopped shipping to their smaller customers”
“We’ve been working our hardware and lumberyard-service fingers to the bone,” Hasson noted.
Based in Knoxville, Tenn.House-Hasson holds three dealer markets annually. The summer market is typically held in Sevierville, Tenn., just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This year, dealers will log onto the House-Hasson website and place their orders from participating vendors.
“We’re bulging with sign-ups,” Hasson said, noting that more than 1,600 dealers and hundreds of vendors have registered.
“This is higher than the number of dealers who make the trip to a market, so the likelihood is that the outcome will be substantial in terms of increased ordering and vendor activity,” Hasson explained. “That puts a strain on response, given the already-increased sales, but it’s a good problem.”
A move to a virtual program is expected to be a problem for one of House-Hasson’s largest customers.
“We expect to find good deals like we do at all House-Hasson markets,” said T.K. Sloan, whose family operates four stores in Vonore, Etowah, Loudon, and Madisonville, Tenn. Combined, the Sloan’s stores total some 60,000 square feet.
“Though we won’t be able to participate shoulder-to-shoulder as we have in the past, we feel we’ll be in even better contact with vendors,” Sloan said. “On a preliminary basis we’ve seen some good deals, and we’ll be looking, as we always do, to find deals that’ll give us good margins.”
The virtual market will incorporate every element of dealer market offerings, said Ron Yatteau, House-Hasson manager of dealer computer services, who developed the event’s electronic capabilities.
“Dealers will benefit from bonus buys, drop ships, pallet buys, coupon buys – everything we have at a regular market,” Yatteau said. “They’ll be able to click on ‘vendor booths’ and see a vendor’s booth and the vendor’s specials. Clicking on ‘coupon book’ will show all vendors’ coupon offerings.”
Hasson said the company is looking ahead to future markets and how the virtual component might be incorporated into those events.
“The pandemic has forced a different way to look at a great many things,” he said, “and this is just one – and a big one – on that list.”
House-Hasson Hardware serves independent hardware store and lumberyard dealers in 23 states and the Caribbean Basin.