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Ace Hardware cancels Spring Convention

Concern over the spreading coronavirus prompts cancellation.

BY HBSDealer Staff

The 2020 Ace Hardware Spring Convention has been called off amid concerns of the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

In an email issued to attendees on the evening of March 5, Ace Hardware said, “Due to growing concerns around the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have made the difficult decision to cancel the Ace Spring convention next week in Chicago.”

The show had been scheduled to take place March 11-March 14 at McCormick Place.

“The health and safety of our Ace employees, retailers, vendors and other convention guests are a top priority,” Ace Hardware said.

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 98,000 confirmed global cases of the coronavirus. This includes more than 85,500 cases in China where over 3,000 people have died from the virus.  Outside of China, nearly 15,000 people in 85 countries have contracted the virus.

Reports of the coronavirus in the United States are growing. There are now 21 states that have confirmed 230 coronavirus cases including Washington state where 75 cases have occurred. There has also been 14 deaths in the U.S., including 11 in Washington.

On Friday morning, Ace circulated a letter from CEO John Venhuizen, who said “this is a difficult and regrettable decision.” He pointed to reasons for the decision, including: “The potential downside of bringing people from 50 states and as many as 68 countries into the third largest city in America is in fact an increased health risk to the entire Ace team.”

[Read the Venhuizen memo here.]

The CEO said Ace intends to ramp up a digital-convention experience to facilitate dealer buying needs. And cancellation fees for hotels booked through the official housing company will be covered by Ace. The co-op said it more details regarding the cancelled convention will be forthcoming.

On Monday, the International Housewares Association canceled its event slated for McCormick Place March 14-17. Prior to that, the International Hardware Fair slated for Cologne, Germany was postponed for a year.

Also earlier this week, forest products giant Weyerhaeuser shut down its headquarters in Seattle as a precaution to its employees, including many who use mass transit to commute to work.

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