To get a better understanding of what retailers do at buying markets and what some of the best practices are, Hardware Retailing magazine looked at what three retailers do before, during and after buying markets in its February issue. In addition to the story, editors also spoke with Heather Kreffer, dealer-owner of High River Home Hardware Building Centre in High River, Alberta, to see how she tackles Home Hardware’s buying markets. Below is the questions we asked Kreffer along with her responses.
Hardware Retailing: How often do you attend Home Hardware’s markets?
Heather Kreffer: Twice—both the spring and fall markets.
What are your main goals for the market?
Finding new products. The pre-market conference seminars are always packed with great info, and networking with other retailers, particularly the Young Leaders who have been my most valuable resource to date. It is refreshing to get together with like-minded peers who not only understand the struggles that can come with owning a business, but can often offer insight and solutions.
Who from your business goes to the market? Do you take your family?
I usually go on my own. Our situation is unique—myself, my fiancé, and our business partner are long-time employees turned dealer-owners. We bought the store in January 2013, and our town experienced a massive flood in June 2013 which saw 90 percent of our town (and our home and store) under water. For the past two years, our town has been rebuilding, and we have been busier than the store has ever been. For this reason, only I have left the store to attend markets. I will begin taking our store manager to the Spring 2016 market.
Do you utilize any technology or other materials from your distributor to help prepare for the market? Do you utilize them while you’re at the market?
No. To be honest, I use my smartphone to communicate with my store and business partners.
How do you prepare for the market? How far ahead do you start with these preparations?
I began reviewing for market when our Market Guide is released, usually about two months prior. I plan which seminars to attend and if there are any tours that interest me. Home Hardware has a Hot Deals program of 50 products with huge savings, which can only be purchased at the market by hand-writing your order in a binder at the booth. I review the guide and see how many of each product we should order based on the discount given, past sales and projected promos.
Do you create a schedule before the market to make sure you accomplish everything, or do you do things as you go once you get there?
I usually stay for all three days of the market. I fly in Friday night, spend Saturday at the Pre-Market Conference, then spend three days at the market and fly out on Tuesday night. I use that first of three days at the market to visit the model store and see what catches my eye, either with merchandising accessories or new products. I also visit all of the Home Hardware staff I need to see with questions (for advertising; store planning; merchandising services; reordering store supplies such as uniforms and business cards; etc.) I try to do this on the Sunday, which is Family Day (meaning it’s usually more crowded on the floor). Also, the first day at the market is incredibly busy, and you seem to spend much of the day catching up with peers and vendors you haven’t seen since the last market. The next two days, I hit the floor and look for new products, great prices to stock up on fast movers and other things like that.
What do you bring with you to the market? Any unique items?
No unique items, but I almost always come home with something interesting. One year I hauled home a four-foot Pink Panther, when I told a vendor I would love to have that for a prize at my Grand Opening.
Do you set a budget for how much you’ll spend at the market?
Yes, I usually set a budget for each department I plan to revamp or restock. But I also do not always stick to it. There have been times where I have gone over to buy a new and exciting product line.
Do you take part in any non-market activities while in St. Jacobs? If so, what do you like to do?
Our Young Leaders group always has a social event outside of market hours. It varies each year. For example, it could be a Blue Jays game, bowling, a dinner or laser tag. It’s always a great group activity that allows us to socialize and catch up with each other. I also usually plan a dinner or two with different vendors, or other Home Hardware dealers.
What do you do after you get back from the market?
After the market, I like to come back to my office to review any materials or other information I brought back and review any notes I made. I often bring different information for each of my departments and distribute new ideas, items I’ve ordered or free samples as soon as possible and try to generate excitement while it is still fresh in my mind. One of the market’s biggest assets is that it inspires me to be better and to encourage my team to be better. The month after the market, I start most of my sentences with “Another Home Hardware does this….” This often starts many conversations on how we can improve, differentiate ourselves and be a better team.