As retailers crowded into United Hardware’s Fall and Winter Buying Market, held July 28-30 at the Minneapolis Convention Center, one message came across loud and clear. There are plenty of opportunities to gain success in the home improvement industry for those willing to look. Retailers in attendance were upbeat about sales so far this year and were ready to take on something new.
“This has been a strong year for us, with growth in several categories,” says United Hardware president and CEO Steve Draeger. “In particular, lawn and garden and grilling are two categories with a lot of growth for us, and we have a good presence in these areas at the market. Our customers also continue to look at our new items area with excitement and find products that will work in their stores.”
While the news in the industry has been dominated over the past few weeks by uncertainty over the future of True Value, the attitude at the United Hardware market was one of optimism. “United Hardware’s business is strong. Our sales are ahead of budget for the year,” Draeger says.
Popular areas of the market included the New Products area and the Traffic Builders area, where retailers could find impulse and promotional items.
Doug and Lyn Ramerth were at the market scouting out new products for their store Ramerth Hardware in Fulda, Minnesota. “I really like the Traffic Builders area,” Doug says. “It allows me to buy a small display of an item I want to try and not break the bank. Business this year has been steady. Lawn and garden sales have been wonderful for us.”
Other retailers at the market looking for ways to enhance niche offerings or add something new.
“We’re here looking for opportunities,” says Cash Hogan, owner of Hogan’s Hardware Hank in Pierre, South Dakota. Alongside his traditional hardware categories, he operates a gourmet kitchen store to boost traffic to his business. “I’m able to source a lot of the items for our kitchen store through United Hardware’s warehouse.”
Other highlights of the market included a lunch-and-learn event, where retailers in attendance heard insights on improving their customers’ in-store experience from magician and business speaker Kostya Kimlat. Kimlat is a world-renowned magical entertainer, speaker and author of the forthcoming book “Think Like a Magician.” He shared how lessons he has learned from being a performance magician also apply to the business of retailing (ww.kostyakimlat.com).