Yeti sightings at Lowe’s

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Yeti sightings at Lowe’s

For several years, Yeti has been a fan-favorite at hardware shows and conferences – a cool brand with a cool name and a big ticket to boot. Independent dealers seemed to embrace this luxury outdoor item, from coffee cups to full-size fishing boat coolers.

And the company’s ability to turn a household product like a cooler into a mush-have luxury item has been considered a feat of home improvement magic. (Check out this 2016 Yeti feature.)

But there’s a new wrinkle in the Yeti story as it relates to independents. The products are now selling at Lowe’s.

During the Lowe’s fourth-quarter conference call, Executive VP of Merchandising Bill Boltz celebrated a partnership with the brand. “We are excited to continue our national home center roll out of Yeti, leader in coolers, equipment and drink ware,” he said. “Our expanded product offering highlights our commitment to providing our customers with relevant, innovative, best-in-class products.”

A Yeti cooler.

Some independent retailers who compete with Lowe’s and who have thrown their local merchandising muscle behind the cool brand will be less excited. Recent postings to Hardline Digest, a Google Groups discussion board, showed some resentment to the brand's expansion to places beyond the independent dealer. Discounts promoted heavily by Dick’s Sporting Goods also created chilly feelings on the message boards.

One independent retailer shared his thoughts with HBSDealer:

“I am sure many dealers feel the same as I do,” said Jeremy Peterson of Family Hardware in Florida. “We spent a lot of time and money helping Yeti build its brand. Granted that has come with sales and profits for dealers in return, but now it seems they are turning their backs on the very ones’ that helped them get to where they are today.”

At Family Hardware, customers who bought a Yeti cooler from the store were offered to fill it with free ice for life from the store’s ice machine. But seeing the Yeti name in the big box and discounted elsewhere “just really takes the wind out of my sails when it comes to supporting their brand,” he said.

Of course, many independents remain big fans of the brand, which commands a high price point and key endcap real estate at many hardware stores. On the Yeti web site, a simple 12 oz. bottle with a hot shot cap sells for $30. Prices go all the way up to $1,300 for a Tundra 350, Yeti’s largest premium cooler.

Yeti is not available at Home Depot.

“Yeti is a great product and they are free to make any decisions they deem best for their business,” Peterson said. “But this is one I can see backfiring in the future.”

Efforts to reach Yeti for comment were not returned.