The purchase of eco-friendly and sustainable products is a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. According to a study by NielsenIQ, 95% of consumers take steps to live more sustainably and almost half want retailers to provide ways for them to be more sustainable, including reducing plastic packaging and providing more inexpensive sustainable product options.
As new eco-friendly products come to market at a rapid pace, Hardware Retailing spoke with three retailers to get insights into the eco-friendly products their customers want the most and perform well in the independent channel.
Decades of Sustainability
Anawalt Lumber, which operates five locations in the Los Angeles area, has been carrying eco-friendly products for over 20 years, well before many options for sustainable products were available, says nursery and decor buyer Carolyn Collins.
“The customer base in our area is definitely environmentally conscious, and we strive to be as well,” she says.
Over the past two decades, the operation has curated its product selection to include eco-friendly options in several departments and categories including cleaning products, lightbulbs, lumber and lawn and garden. To promote these products, Collins, who also manages the company’s advertisements, says she tries to do an eco friendly page at least twice a year in print advertising and promotes manufacturers and products on Anawalt Lumber’s social media accounts.
When choosing what sustainable products to carry, Collins says Anawalt Lumber’s buyers rely on customer input, research and product discovery at industry markets.
“We definitely do a lot of research and listen to what our customers are asking for,” Collins says. “Markets are always helpful to find new products, and our sales reps know what we’re interested in and can provide recommendations.”
Top-Selling Eco Products at Anawalt Lumber
- Cleaning and lifestyle tools
- LED lightbulbs
- Recycled plastic planters
- Composite decking and lumber
- Organic seeds, fertilizers, controls and soils
Eco-Friendly for Years
Another forerunner in sustainability, Stan’s Ace Hardware, which includes six locations in the Bay Area of California, has also been providing eco-friendly options for several decades. Michelle Leopold, chief marketing officer for the operation, says the company’s Standard 5&10 Ace store in San Francisco has been carrying green products for several decades and was one of the first local stores to offer reusable shopping bags.
“From cleaning supplies to neonic-free plants that promote the health of pollinators, all six of Stan’s Ace Hardware stores promote eco-friendly products year-round as our customers continue to seek out items that are better for our environment,” Leopold says.
The stores discover new eco-friendly products through customer input, product discovery at markets, suggestions from fellow retailers and their own research online, Leopold says.
“We are fortunate to have several sustainable companies near us so we can be part of a growing trend featuring local products,” Leopold says. “This also helps cut down on our carbon footprint because we are buying locally.”
To get the word out about the store’s different green product offerings, Leopold says she utilizes social media. The operation also partners with Our Water Our World, a joint effort by water pollution prevention agencies, participating retail stores and pesticide distributors and manufacturers to reduce the risks associated with pesticide use.
“Our Water Our World does so much excellent education around pest solutions and healthy yard products,” Leopold says. “They offer in-store education to our teams, tabling events for our customers, handouts on many key topics around integrated pest management and labeling of the eco-friendly products on our shelves.”
Top-Selling Eco Products at Stan’s Ace Hardware
- Cleaning and laundry products
- Reusable food wraps
- Biodegradable garbage bags and dog waste bags
- Glass and metal water bottles
- Smart home and energy-saving products
Meeting Customer Needs
Born from a need for a local place to buy paint, Mountain Colors Paint Store in Crested Butte, Colorado, has grown into a full-service paint, hardware and lighting operation that serves its community with high-end products, including a large selection of eco-friendly options.
The store opened in 1994, and current owner Kim Raines purchased the business in 2006 from the original founder, who was also her boss at the time. Because the store is small, Raines is strategic in the products she carries, taking into account her customers’ needs, the local environment and trends in the industry. Crested Butte sits at 8,885 feet above sea level in a dry desert with harsh weather, including extreme sun and low moisture that can dry and damage wood quickly. Products that work at lower elevations and different climates often don’t work for the store’s clients, so she is continually bringing in and testing new products.
“We believe we have found the products that work best here, but we are always looking for better products that last longer and give our customers a better bang for their buck,” she says. “We live in a beautiful area and keeping it beautiful is important to us. Thankfully, the industry has been making massive improvements in their products to be more eco-friendly.”
Top-Selling Eco Products at Mountain Colors Paint Store
- Low- or zero-VOC paint and stain