Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: E-commerce Pioneers

Whatever happened to Hardware.com? The August 2000 issue of NHCN has the answer.

BY HBSDealer Staff

At the recent turn of the century, the e-retailing business was bubbling. Some would call it frothy. And of course, not every well-conceived plan achieved dot-com gold.

By the time the August 2000 issue of National Home Center News, hit newsstands, the shakeout had begun. The magazine, the forerunner of HBSDealer, reported the demise of two pioneering companies that never made it to the promised land: Hardware.com, and Living.com. The headline: “Two e-tailers fade to black” captured the heart of the story.

Hardware.com was described as one of the first online home improvement stores to go live. It began its run in 1998 as Superbuild.com, “the home improvement superstore.” The company’s effort to pivot in June 200 into a full-service online supplier catering to remodelers and small contractors failed to stick. Ultimately, the company was folded into Wal-Mart.com.

Today, the web address brings one to a UK-based technology company.

Living.com took a different path to the digital graveyard. The Austin, Texas-based company sold furniture, lighting, rugs and decor. Feeling pressure in May 2000, the company agreed to pay Amazon $145 million for the rights to fulfill all orders in a “Home Living” store on Amazon’s Web site. But a few weeks later, the company shed 50 employees, and it discontinued operations later that year.

Today, Living.com brings one to the Discovery channel.

The year 2000 article also included interesting analysis from Sean Curry, who was chief operating officer of HomeTownStores.com. That web site was steadily thriving by emphasizing traditional business best practices. Curry explained: “We didn’t give away the house, we didn’t’ offer free shipping, we didn’t go crazy advertising ourselves,” he said. We are running a sustainable and profitable slow-growing business. Looking back, we’re so glad we didn’t get any venture capital and ride the fast train.”

Hometownstores.com automatically redirects to the home page of Curry Ace Hardware, operators of three stores in Massachusetts.


HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact us at SchafferAssociates.com

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b.jones says:
Jul-31-2018 04:56 am

Not doing ventures and doing a slow growing business is I think a far better way of doing business rather than giving free shipments or offers and things like those.I can totally relate to curry.WilliamJacket

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Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Menards and marketing

BY HBSDealer Staff

What do Howard Stern, the Spice Girls and John Menard have in common? One answer: they were all mentioned in the same caption on the front page of the July 21, 1997 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer.

Here’s the background. Menard, the president of Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards, was cited as one of the country’s leading marketers by Advertising Age and the magazine’s sixth annual Marketing 100 awards program. The National Home Center News article explained: “The list cuts a pretty broad swath and includes Howard Stern, the nationally syndicated shock disk jockey, and the marketing brains behind the all-girl pop group Spice Girls.”

There were other executives from the home improvement industry recognized for the 1997 awards. Among them were Kevin Sauder, VP of marketing for Sauder Woodworking, the Archbold, Ohio-based furniture maker; Jim Holcomb, VP of marketing for Royal Appliance Co. for its promotions of the Dirt Devil; and Mark Larsen, category manager-communications for Energizer Battery Co.

Menard himself was quoted in the article: “It’s a great honor, and we are proud to be recognized and appreciate the recognition.”

# # #

Throwback Bonus: Last week’s throwback about DIY Home Warehouse generated the following reader responses:

“Thanks for including the article on DIY Home Warehouse yesterday. I worked there in the Kitchen (Cabinetry) department from 1985 – 1989. I worked at both of the first two stores (Brookpark and North Randall). Those days we competed with Builders Square and Forest City. They were one of the first home centers to approach kitchen and bath by including higher-end products. We dressed business professional in the department as opposed to wearing aprons. It was a nice experience. Met some people there who became life-long friends.”

– Tom Lokitus,
VP of sales, Wagner’s
Jericho, N.Y.

“I worked thru college for its parent company in St. Louis called Eclipse Industries and we owned locally B and B Home Supply-they were absolute innovators in warehouse retailing before Home Depot, Lowe’s and such. I went on to have a big box career retiring from Lowe’s 7 years ago.”
– Jerome Berhorst


HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact us at SchafferAssociates.com

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Throwback Thursday: DIY Home Warehouse digs in

BY HBSDealer Staff

D.I.Y. Home Warehouse knew it was in for a fight in 1998. The page-five article of the Jan. 26, 1998 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, featured the headline: “As Depots encroach on its turf, DIY Home Warehouse gears up.”

According to the article, the 16-store DIY Home Warehouse changed its logo and shifted its inventory “as Home Depot stomps into northeastern Ohio.”

Unfortunately, the tactics didn’t work. DIY Home Warehouse closed its last store in August 2001.

But the Valley View, Ohio-based company didn’t go down without a fight. In addition to changing its color scheme from orange and black to turquoise and yellow, it expanded its FrugalBees closeout concept as it de-emphasized flooring and power tools – two categories dominated by Home Depot.

According to Dennis Hoff, VP and general merchandise manager, the typical 84,000 sq. ft. Home Warehouse had to pick its spots when competing against the larger home improvement warehouse competitors. One spot was plumbing and paint, described as company strengths. And DIY Home Warehouse also boosted its furniture selection as a differentiator.

DIY Home Warehouse also had high hopes for Frugal Bees business. According to Hoff, a closeout annex and its constantly changing merchandise mix draws people into the store even when they are not involved in home projects. While the focus remained on its core business, the FrugalBees featured a wide range of products that included toys, books, towels, cookware and sporting goods. “We’re going for a broader appeal than just the traditional mix,” Hoff said.

Do you remember DIY Home Warehouse? Let us know at [email protected]


HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact us at SchafferAssociates.com

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