True Value’s Reunion: Being there

The show’s All-In Homecoming theme was all about getting back.
a man standing in front of a store
Like attendees, vendors were glad to be back at Reunion 2021.

The feeling of ‘family’ and the joy of ‘getting back out there’ were everywhere at the just-concluded True Value Reunion show in Chicago, held Sept. 30 to Oct 2.

There were fathers and mothers strolling the aisles with daughters and sons, gathering ideas for spring 2022 — grills, lawn and garden, paints, tools and special bargain sections. Sure, many multi-generation family hardware store owners attended.

But the palpable thrill was just to be here.

“I like getting back out,” said Jessica Simpson, owner of Shoppers True Value Hardware in South Portland, Maine. “It’s been two years. It’s been too long.”

“I’ve been coming to Reunion for 25 years,” she said, as she slowed up pushing her cart along an aisle near the Farm & Ranch section, carrying all of her notes on the top. “I need to visually see products. We buy lots of items and we’re looking at lawn and garden.”

Clayton and Shannon Gambril, co-owners with his parents Rick and Teri Gambril of their Home & Garden store in Arroyo Grande, Calif., were here enjoying their family time together looking at all the show offerings. Clayton said, “We’re here with our parents and this is a nice show!”

Many attendees voiced their appreciation about being back at Reunion where they could talk in person and touch products and equipment, many for the first time in 18 months.

Vendors expressed the same joyous feeling of being back in action at Reunion.

At Liquid Nails booth, parent company PPG, Gabe Paolino, senior regional sales manager said, “Seeing members and vendors again is great. True Value is doing a great job bringing Reunion back again in-person.”

In the same booth, Keith Vervaet, key account manager with PPG, explained, “True Value has done a remarkable job coming back safely. There are strong areas of attendee interest such as the WOW area of opportunities. It’s all about if the people who use our products win. We feel such positive energy here!”

Shopping for items in the Discount City section of the show floor, Landon Garner and his father, owners of Garner True Value Hardware in Rogers, Ark., expressed happiness to be able to feel and touch items again. They shared some other thoughts:

“There’s a great benefit to visiting with vendors and a lot of it is getting information straight from the horse’s mouth. Supply line is an issue. I’m buying 6-8 months in advance. It used to be seasonal,” Garner explained.

“Everybody has their own supply issues, things we ourselves are in great need of include electrical boxes and PVC fittings, just to name a couple,” added his father.

In the nearby Pottery Place area of the show floor, a busy section where many attendees found their way to, a general merchandise store owner from Utah visiting with his wife, said mainly he was glad to back at the Reunion show to get ideas. “Anything and everything,” he exclaimed and gave a thumbs-up to being able to walk the aisles and see and touch items again.

Over in the Hardware section, one attendee from upstate New York was looking for what she called “fun items.” She had a salt shooter product in her cart that shoots at flies. She decided to give it a try in her store. “That’s what I want, fun stuff,” she grinned and moved along the aisle with her cart.

The show floor at the McCormick Place West venue was divided into sections such as: Hardware, Tools, Outdoor Living, Lumber, Plumbing, Giftware and more.

In the Tools section, at the Black & Decker/DeWalt booth, Patrick Wurm, national account manager, talked about the vibe at Reunion. “Just to get out, be back with people live and in-person and talk shop is so satisfying. And it’s good to not be on screen.”

Vendors such as Bosch, Sakrete, Sherwin Williams, GE Lighting, National Hardware, and so many more echoed that same sentiment.

One attendee noted, “we’re back talking with vendors and friends again. It’s a great feeling.”

Here with his son from Los Angeles where they co-own a hardware store, was John Samore, Jr., checking out the offerings in the Assortment City section.

“There’s been a transition in the show with the addition of online. But we’re here ourselves in-person, together, to check out new ideas, new products and get educated on all that is new. We need to understand new products, and this is a great place for that.”