With plenty of family atmosphere, Blish-Mize’s twice-yearly Buying Markets can often resemble reunions of friends who have a standing date to meet up every few months. The 2019 Blish-Mize Spring Buying Market, conducted March 21-23 in Overland Park, Kansas, had a similar vibe, but many new retailers were entering the fold, hoping to become the latest members of the extended Blish-Mize family.
After Hardware Distribution Warehouses (HDW, Inc.), a Texas-based hardware and lumber distributor, ended its operations, independent retailers in areas like Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana were looking for new distribution avenues for their hardware needs. Many chose to source through Blish-Mize, giving retailers access to new brands and marketing materials while bringing the wholesaler into new markets in the south and southeast.
“It’s been a great market, and our spring show is always a strong one for us. Having this Buying Market be the first for a lot of our newest customers is exciting because of the commitment we’ve received from our vendors to bring great displays and products,” says Jonathan Mize, CEO and president of Blish-Mize. “We’ve gotten great feedback from our customers and vendors that the events we include, like our opening MVP buying event to start the market, allows for a laid-back atmosphere you won’t find at some of the larger shows in our industry.”
The Real MVP
Customers new and old alike were treated to what is becoming a focal point of a Blish-Mize Buying Market, the Thursday night Most Valuable Profits (MVP) event. A low-key, informal opening viewing and buying opportunity, with some Show Stopper Deals for customers before the standard show floor opens the following day, the event offers free food and beverages while allowing exhibitors and Blish-Mize customers to mingle and enjoy some relaxing time.
The Spring event also included a new attraction: a scavenger hunt tied to the Blish-Mize Market Mobile App. Customers were encouraged to visit certain exhibitors to complete a list for prizes, opening the door for even more vendor-customer interactions and connections.
“We’re in our second year offering the event, and we’ve seen increased attendance each market we’ve included the MVP event,” says Blish Connor, communications director for Blish-Mize. “The best part about MVP is it isn’t just a preview. Customers can get right to business and get started with their purchases for the coming season. But it also allows for planning the following days at the market.”
Attendees appeared optimistic for the coming spring season, Mize says, especially with many Blish-Mize customers coming off of harsh winter months or seeing extensive flooding in their markets, like in Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa. Weather-related difficulties have hit the industry hard as a whole this winter, Mize says, but it will open up strong possibilities as warmer weather nears.
“We have a lot of customers that got hit hard the last few months, so it’s led to them being very conservative with their buying,” Mize says. “We’re prepared to offer all the products and supplies these customers will need to take advantage of spring renovations, repairs or just excitement for getting back outdoors in the coming months.”
For Kevin Raasch, manager of Malcolm Lumber in Montezuma, Iowa, the Spring Market was more than an opportunity to see new exhibitors and products. While Malcolm Lumber’s focus on developing a design and home center led Raasch to several vendors servicing those needs, including new exhibitor Designer Choice, which offers vinyl flooring solutions, he was also excited about opening up the views of his employees and adding to their knowledge at the market.
“It’s a learning tool on top of a crucial market for us to make buying decisions for the coming year,” Raasch says. “We make a point of bringing a different associate to each market to introduce them to vendors that might not have been able to come to our business and show them the view of our industry beyond our own walls.”
Gary Seidel, owner of Moberly Lumber in Moberly, Missouri, has been coming to Blish-Mize markets for close to 20 years. Having seen the developments Blish-Mize has made in that time, he appreciates how the distributor offers services to help retailers stay competitive while staying close to its roots.
“Blish-Mize markets allow us to see the top vendors and the products our customers are asking for,” Seidel says. “You can tell Blish-Mize values our time, and the deals available set us up for a great buying season.”
A House, A Home
Updates for Blish-Mize in 2019 include the company’s full ownership of private-label brand Hardware House LLC, which continues to offer lighting, ceiling fans, faucets, vanities, locksets and other lines. While the issue of U.S. tariffs continues to keep Blish-Mize/Hardware House and the rest of the industry cautious about future developments, the wholesaler is eager to continue the expansion of Hardware House.
“Tariffs are an issue we pay a lot of attention to, and we hope new developments will be coming in the near future that will allow us to make even more changes to what we can offer customers with Hardware House products,” Mize says. “We’re being conservative on our plans for now, but we’re looking to bring new lighting options and new plumbing fixtures like faucet designs to the Hardware House brand for the Fall Market. Being the full owner of Hardware House is an exciting development for Blish-Mize and our direct Hardware House LLC customers, so we want the next step to be good for long-time customers, and for those just now bringing this brand into their stores.”
Blish-Mize’s 2019 Fall Buying Market will be held Sept. 19-21 at the Overland Park Convention Center.