The market got off to a strong start on Friday night with the Sneak Peek event, where sales totaled $8.9 million in under 90 minutes. Retailers were able to save as much as 50 percent on their purchases.
When the doors opened on Saturday morning, retailers hit the show floor, which included more than 60 new vendors, to check out new products, place orders with vendors and meet with Do it Best staff.
Several categories stood out on the show floor, with farm and ranch leading the way with a dedicated 5,000-square-foot exhibit.
“We have a diverse product mix in farm and ranch,” says Randy Rusk, communications director. “This category has historically served the traditional farmer, but as hobby farming continues to become more and more popular, our retailers have added more of these products to their stores, and we’ve added more of them to the warehouse.”
Another popular category was home automation, which included anything from lighting that can be controlled by a tablet to a propane gauge that allows users to keep tabs on how much propane is left in a tank simply by checking their smartphones. The innovative products were located in the New Idea Exhibit area at the market.
The home décor area stayed busy, too. “It continues to be a strong category, with our retailers asking for more products and options from us for their stores,” Rusk says. The co-op even offers a home décor school that teaches members some ideas of how to merchandise and increase sales in the categories.
Other couldn’t-miss categories included plumbing—“everything from new home construction to remodeling means a broadening appeal in this area,” Rusk says—to consumables. “We’ve had substantial growth in snacks across our stores, with beef and turkey jerky, candy and more,” he says.
It was the first market where retailers could redeem their Do it Dollars through the RSC/VIP! program, where qualifying members earned as a 3-percent incentive on their total increase in warehouse purchases over the previous fiscal year. Do it Dollars can be invested in Do it Best programs and services, advertising, market travel expenses and other growth initiatives.
“Our No. 1 goal is to help our members grow and achieve their dreams. Every program, every product, every solution we present at this market is focused on helping them achieve that objective,” says Do it Best Corp. president and CEO Bob Taylor. “Our members recognize our markets for the invaluable growth opportunities they provide their businesses each year. From the tremendous savings opportunities, the wide array of free, world-class training sessions, as well as the distribution of our industry-leading rebates, our members know the market is a unique and important time to focus on growth into the future.”
At the market, Do it Best distributed a total of $115.4 million in member rebates, the 11th consecutive year surpassing more than $100 million. Five members received rebates of more than $1 million each for the second consecutive year.
Old Friends, New Products
At this market, Do it Best also unveiled its new garden line, Best Garden. “It’s a new private brand available to our retailers for their stores,” says Rusk. “It’s a higher end private label they can sell that will differentiate them from their competitors carry.”
Retailers also discovered the reappearance of an old friend who had been popular during the 1950s and 1960s: Mr. Friendly. “He was the mascot when HWI was known as ‘the friendly ones,’” says Rusk. “By popular demand, he is making a resurgence now.”
Mr. Friendly’s look has been updated, and he’s now available as part of a new series of branding spots from Do it Best Corp. Do it Best retailers can buy a package of branding spots and customize them for use in their stores, for anything from TV commercials to social media posts.
A Positive Atmosphere
The atmosphere was enthusiastic at the market, with retailers stocking up on inventory and looking for new products.
“Business is rebounding, as is the housing market, after the recession,” says Rusk. “It may not be as quickly as everyone would like, but it is solid growth. Our sales are up 8 percent overall this quarter, so we’re happy to see this steady, sustained growth and the strong optimism from our retailers.”
“Our business is doing well,” says Rob Decker of Browns Do it Center in Goodrich, Michigan. “Business is up, so we’re very happy about that.”
Joe Collings of Ferguson Do it Best in Veersburg, Indiana, kept both his DIY and pro customers in mind as he walked the market floor.
“We have two locations, one that’s mostly hardware and another for lumber, so we’re shopping for both our consumer and contractor clients,” he says. “We’re looking for special buys and offers. Markets are really effective, but I also enjoy visiting with friends I see at each market.”
Gary Nackers, who succeeded the retiring Quent Ondricek as vice president of LBM in September, says that when the housing market collapsed during the recession, the co-op worked to put some new programs in place to help retailers keep their businesses as successful as possible, even during tough times.
Now that the economy, included the housing market, has rebounded, the challenges are to help retailers expand and diversify their LBM operations. “We’re seeing our retailers keep their showrooms open later to allow customers more time to come and see and feel products before buying,” Nackers says. “We believe future lumberyards and showrooms will become more female-friendly, and we’re seeing more use of technology in the LBM arena as well.”