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Big Energy, Trends Kick Off National Hardware Show®

As a global event and the largest of its kind in North America, the 68th annual National Hardware Show® kicked off in grand fashion this morning, culminating in a confetti cannon showering the crowd of exhibitors and attendees gathered around the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) Village Stage before the show floor opened.

The ceremony included a marching band, a presentation of colors, introductions of National Hardware Show organizers and co-located organization representatives including the NRHA, the Paint & Decorating Retailers Association (PDRA) and Lancaster.

“Our National Hardware Show team and association sponsors go to work for everyone here. We work hard to bring a valuable event to help you grow your business,” said Ed Several, Senior Vice President & General Manager of the National Hardware Show.

Educational seminars and presentations featuring high-profile speakers also took place as part of NRHA’s All-Industry Conference, which is co-located with the National Hardware Show and continues through Thursday.

“The National Hardware Show contributes to the success of the industry in a big way,” says Bill Lee, NRHA’s president and CEO. “It provides education, information and networking opportunities for retailers and their channel partners and provides the exhibit and meeting space needed to make available NRHA’s in-depth conference program to show attendees.”

Featured Product Areas

The energy level stayed high after the grand opening ceremony, as attendees and exhibitors took to the show floor to scope out all the products spread throughout the convention center.

Buyers spotted trends from several popular categories, including more than 200 manufacturers featuring farm and ranch related products; more than 80 companies showcasing their wares in the Outdoors, Tailgate & Recreation area; and more than 200 manufacturers featured in the expanded Pet Pavilion.

“Consumers want their money’s worth. In the past, people bought their dogs toys that didn’t cost much, and the dog tore it up quickly,” said Wendy Sacra, international sales manager at VIP Pet Products. “Now they’re willing to spend more on toys that will last longer. We’re extremely adamant about having the highest quality products. Our pets are like our children.”

The New Product Launch Spotlight and Innovation Station were also popular areas on the show floor, as buyers were interested in checking out the latest product trends.

“The show has really brought back its luster and is getting back to its core—big vendors and new products. That’s what I’m really looking forward to seeing this year,” said James Cabirac, owner of Kief Hardware in Louisiana, who has been coming to the National Hardware Show for the past 10 years.

For Shari Kalbach, managing director of PRO Group, Inc., the National Hardware Show is a time for building and maintaining vendor relationships and attending seminars at the Village Stage.

“The Hardware Show offers a great way to connect with vendors we already work with and meet new ones,” she said.

Informative Seminars Take the Stage

Throughout the day, attendees sat in on presentations and panel discussions part of NRHA’s All-Industry Conference off the show floor on the NRHA Village Stage. Some of the big names presenting included keynote speakers Kathy Daly-Jennings, head of industry, retail practice, Google; and actor, author and activist Ed Begley, Jr.

Seminars focused on the changing consumer and how retailers can adapt to their increasingly tech-savvy shopping habits.

At noon, show attendees gathered at the NRHA Village Stage to enjoy a free lunch during the Lunch and Learn Session: Independent We Stand. This seminar was sponsored by STIHL Inc. and focused on how a business can promote and benefit from participating in a cause. Panelists for this seminar included Roger Phelps, Stihl communications manager and Bill Brunelle, project, Independent We Stand.

Later in the day on the Village Stage, NRHA hosted the Packaging and Merchandising Awards seminar. Allison DeWitt, NRHA’s member services & events manager, hosted the seminar and discussed some of the biggest trends noticed from the award applicants this year.

“Products with clear, informative descriptions of how they are used and packaging that allowed consumers to touch and feel the product were big winners this year,” she said.

All of this year’s winners are on display in the NRHA Village. For even more information on the winners, check out the May issue of Hardware Retailing.

About Amanda Bell

Amanda Bell was an assistant editor of Hardware Retailing and NRHA. Amanda regularly visited with home improvement retailers across the country and attended industry events and seminars. She earned a degree in magazine journalism from Ball State University and has received honors for her work for Hardware Retailing from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

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