When it comes to providing a setting for retailers to learn about the latest trends, see the hottest new products and network with other progressive industry leaders, there is no venue quite like that of the National Hardware Show® in Las Vegas.
Each year, thousands of independent home improvement retailers gather at the event to see the complete world of products in one location and broaden their horizons by interacting with retailers of all affiliations from around the world. This year, the show will be held May 9-11.
Over the past several years, the number of independent retailers attending the event has increased, and the National Hardware Show has redoubled its efforts to add features to the show to accommodate the unique needs of these attendees.
Now, the National Hardware Show is taking its commitment to independent home improvement retailers to an entirely different level.
During the North American Retail Hardware Association’s (NRHA) State of Independents Conference held last month in Chicago, National Hardware Show Vice President Rich Russo made a major announcement about the show’s commitment to the channel.
Russo unveiled the National Hardware Show’s Reimagine Retail promotion, which will award $100,000 to one independent home improvement retailer to use to fund a business improvement project.
Following the announcement, Hardware Retailing had the opportunity to sit down with Russo to get some more details about this promotion and the impact the National Hardware Show hopes it will make on the industry.
Hardware Retailing: The Reimagine Retail promotion shows a major commitment on behalf of the show to helping independent retailers in this industry. Where did the idea come from?
Rich Russo: The idea really just came out of our post-show planning sessions. We constantly challenge our teams to look for ways to better serve attendees. Retailers who have been to the show know that it serves as a hub for innovation. Retailers can see new products, learn from the educational content, network with best-in-class retailers of all types and take what they’ve learned back to their businesses. But we wanted a way that we can expose even more retailers to the show and, in the process, begin to collect and share information about best practices.
HR: Why have independent retailers emerged as such an important focus for the show?
RR: Some people might not realize it, but independent retailers represent more than half the sales in the home improvement market in the U.S. That’s a huge deal. Plus, when you consider that there are more than 35,000 independent home improvement retailers in the U.S. and Canada, it’s easy to understand why these businesses are so important to the companies that typically attend our show as exhibitors. So the Reimagine Retail promotion allows us to not only show our support for independent retailers in a very tangible way by providing one of them with the financial ability to fund a business improvement project, but also by creating a means to collect and disseminate a lot of valuable information outside the three-day window of the show.
HR: Talk to us a little bit about that. How will the promotion work?
RR: While more precise details about the promotion will be released very soon, I can give you the gist of it. Basically, we are going to ask independent retailers to submit entries that highlight what they would do to improve their business if they were to win the $100,000. We will be looking for projects that focus on four key business improvement areas: store technology, merchandising and layout, personnel development and products and categories. Together with NRHA and a panel of industry professionals, we will review the entries and determine which project is most worthy of winning the $100,000. Finalists will be flown to the National Hardware Show in May, and the winner will be announced during the event. Runners-up will receive some awards to hopefully get them closer to their business goals as well.
HR: Beyond providing $100,000 in funding for the winning project, how do you see this promotion helping other independent retailers?
RR: Well, that’s the real heart of this promotion. We hope to take all the ideas that are submitted to us and share this information with other independent retailers and the industry at large. Independent retailers are so innovative and so industrious that just gaining some insights into what they would do to take their operations to the next level can only help others. We hope there will be some really interesting things that bubble up from all the entries we get—new ideas for technology, store design, products and categories and employee development.
HR: Do you see this as an ongoing program or is it just a 2017 promotion?
RR: We definitely see this as an ongoing promotion. We think the real value begins to come through after a few years, when we have all these ideas to share with the industry and we can share the stories about how past winners’ projects have turned out and what they learned along the way.
HR: How can retailers enter the Reimagine Retail promotion and get more information about it?
RR: For right now, they should stay tuned to Hardware Retailing and the National Hardware Show website, nationalhardwareshow.com, because we will be releasing more details in the very near future. We are very excited about this promotion and look forward to the impact we think it can have, not just on the winner, but on helping other independent home improvement retailers succeed.