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Category All-Stars: Outdoor Equipment

Developing a core category into an all-star category takes dedication, energy and sometimes a little luck. While their paths differ, Hardware Retailing spoke to four retailers who have found success in core categories, turning certain departments from fine to phenomenal.

Read on to discover how Peter’s True Value serves both DIY and professional customers with outdoor power equipment, and check out the other all-star categories: hand and power tools; impulse; and housewares.

Feeling Fine Outside

From outdoor living to outdoor power equipment, Peter Grebeck, owner of three Peter’s True Value in Michigan, has embraced several outdoor-related categories to offer something for all his customers.

The company has built a reputation for its selection of large outdoor power equipment (OPE), in addition to carrying parts for all the brands the store stocks. Grebeck not only maintains a large inventory of parts, but also offers them at competitive prices. Each store also has full maintenance and repair services, making Peter’s True Value a one-stop shop for power equipment.

While commercial sales is a big focus for Grebeck, because of the pandemic, he has seen more homeowners doing large outdoor projects on their own and renting or buying equipment he typically rents and sells to professional contractors.

“Because of COVID-19, we’re seeing a lot more people doing things on their own,” Grebeck says. “We have a lot more DIYers renting rototillers from us to do their gardens or getting chainsaws for yard work.”

Grebeck has added digital road signs to the stores and displays rental equipment and large power equipment outside, both of which have drawn more attention to these items and brought in more customers.

The employees at Peter’s True Value are equipped to sell all of these outdoor items thanks to in-store training and virtual training from the various vendors.

“Especially when it comes to power equipment, we want our employees to be knowledgeable and informed to assist customers in not only purchasing the right equipment, but also being able to use it safely,” Grebeck says.

In addition to OPE, Peter’s True Value has also always stocked a large selection of grills and accessories. Recently the business has started focusing more on the recreation side.

“With the big increase in backyard activities, we started to strengthen our outdoor living category with a bigger focus on grilling and backyard activities,” says Grebeck. “So along with the traditional bags of fertilizer and grass seed you see in the outdoor category, we also sell coolers, citronella candles and accessories, lawn chairs and more.”

The company has also carved out a successful niche renting party equipment, including tents, tables, chairs, bounce houses, dance floors and hot dog, popcorn and nacho machines.

“Basically, we’re a one-stop shop, from helping customers get their yards ready for the party to providing the tents and accessories they need for the party,” says Grebeck.

3 Tips for Selling Outdoor Equipment

  1. Make it broad
    Consumers have changed how they live at home over the last year, so outdoor equipment includes everything it takes to make a yard enjoyable. From the large power equipment they need to renovate a yard to grills and patio furniture, be ready to help your customers through their whole project.
  2. Invest in party rental
    Having power equipment and tools available for rent is only one side of the rental equation. As people start to gather again this summer, have tents, bounce houses, tables, chairs and other party options available to rent in your department.
  3. Don’t skip training
    Whether someone is buying outdoor power equipment or renting, it’s critical they’re prepared to operate it once they get it home. Consider bringing in a pro customer or a vendor to host a training day on all the equipment you rent so your employees can have hands-on experience to pass on to customers.

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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