In the city of Houston, Texas, the sun seems to shine year round and consumers are often on the hunt to find ways to enhance their living space, indoors and out.
From an emphasis on top-of-the-line grills and accessories, to a love for SEC sports and several unique niches that pique shoppers’ interests, retailers in this southern city have found ways to keep their customers coming back for more.
This month, editors from Hardware Retailing had the opportunity to spend an entire day visiting independent retailers in and around Houston to tour their stores and find the hottest products from the Lone Star State. Read on to discover the trends and popular products that help these retailers thrive. Be sure to view the gallery below for a tour of the stores and products mentioned.
Champion True Value
The first stop on the tour of stores was at Champion True Value in Spring, Texas. NRHA staffers Tom Marcum and Renee Changnon had the opportunity to meet Scott and Jennifer Gilbert and their son Steve, who helps run the business.
A Big Green Egg grill display is the first thing customers see as soon as they walk through the front door. For the grill master who wants the outdoor kitchen without the massive investment, Scott says many Big Green Egg grill enthusiasts also purchase a custom table, which holds the grill to complete the outdoor kitchen look.
In addition to the grills, Scott says grill accessories are the next best part of the shopping experience for customers. And, once a customer has purchased their grill, Scott says they continue to shop his store for charcoal when their supply runs out, which leads them to browse the entire accessories offering, creating an opportunity for additional sales.
An extremely popular brand for the business is anything and everything from YETI Cooler. Scott says they’ll stock up on the product, and once customers catch wind they have them, YETI items fly off the shelves.
With a southern location, football is considered a way of life for many. This has translated into a unique niche the store carries, with several university flags available for purchase. Scott says they do extremely well with these flags, as well as other university themed products, like barbecue sauces, themed toolboxes and even garden gnomes.
The housewares department is an area where Jennifer sources many unique finds, including products from the high-end pet line, Harry Barker. From unique toys to fancy dog bowls, pet parents can find all of the things their pets could want or need.
Cypress Ace Hardware & Feed
The next store on the tour was Cypress Ace Hardware & Feed, located in Houston. The store is about 30,000 square feet and features a wide variety of standard hardware products as well as unique niches, like a Fudge Shop, a diverse housewares department, livestock feed and supply and much more.
Walking through the business, the decor features a strong southern vibe, with wooden paneling, statement signs and several deer mounted on the walls. Cypress Ace also stocks university gear, with flags, lanterns and even spatulas.
As they are in many home improvement retail shops, live animals like chicks and ducks are a popular attraction in the store. During the store’s annual sale of these animals, customers can come up and hold the three-day old chicks or ducks and chat with managers about the care and keeping of these little animals. Underneath the animals were several products to help take care of them as they grow.
To keep customers excited about grilling, Cypress Ace has been hosting grilling events inside it’s grilling center on the weekends. There is a large station inside for grilling, which becomes similar to a live grilling show. There are two flat screen TVs that project the grilling in action, so people gathered at the event can watch as the grill masters do their work. In the grill area, there are several popular brands to choose from, including Big Green Egg, Traeger, Weber and a wide variety of barbecue sauces and rubs for customers to select.
Next to the grilling area is the Fudge Shop, where several flavors of fudge are made on sight during the day. Customers can try samples and pick out selections to enjoy or give away as gifts.
The housewares department is another unique area of the business, where shoppers can browse a wide assortment of goods, from seasonal decor to glassware and even picture frames and fun signs.
The last stop on the tour of Houston stores was at one of the two Bering’s Hardware locations. August (Augie) Bering V, president of the store, gave a tour of the large facility, where customers can find a wide assortment of goods, from housewares and fine china to children’s clothes and fun outdoor living goods.
Walking through the store, customers will find a large assortment of kitchenware to choose from, including products from top-of-the-line brands like Le Creuset, KitchenAid, Cuisinart and more. The offering even includes small appliances, cutlery, cookbooks and kitchen decor.
One unique niche the business excels in is it’s china and tableware selection. The store has a wedding registry, so customers can add their china patterns to their registry.
According to Bering, customers also enjoy the Cafe, which is located inside the store. They can browse the store aisles with a latte in hand, searching for items like chocolate, hardware or outdoor living products. They can walk to the connected building to browse furniture offerings, clothing and stationary. This area even had adult coloring books, which are increasing in popularity as a fun, stress relieving activity for adults.
Outside, the store has a grilling station as well, where Bering says customers can attend weekend cooking classes on the grills. They began as a free event but as demand grew, customers now pay to attend the classes.