When Dave Umber attended the National Hardware Show® in Las Vegas in May, he was looking for new niches to try selling in his store. And he found one that hit close to home.
“I saw a Broil King grill made in Huntington, Indiana, which is about 30 miles from my stores,” says Umber, owner of Umber’s Do it Best Hardware, which has two locations in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
“I looked at that and said, ‘Now there’s a niche,’” he says. “My salesmen can tell customers these grills were made 30 miles away. I thought that was pretty cool.”
Umber met with some of the company’s representatives at his distributor’s buying show a few weeks later, and he and his managers even visited the plant to see the grills being made.
When it came time to start selling them in his stores, one of his salesmen had an idea.
“We’re always challenging employees to come up with new ideas,” says Umber, “and one suggested we build excitement over this new product by making it a surprise.”
They set up a display, putting out a grill and covering it in a black plastic sheet. They also roped the area off with caution tape.
Signs near the display let customers know a new product was on its way to the store.
“My son, Grant, is the store manager, and each week he told employees what details they could share with customers about this new product,” Umber says.
“It was under wraps for three or four weeks, so most of our regular customers saw the display at least once or twice,” he says.
They revealed the new product one busy Saturday afternoon. Now, the store stocks three models of these grills, and Umber is looking forward to them being hot sellers in the spring.
He’s also excited to work with a manufacturer that’s so close by.
“We can jump in the truck and run to the docks if we need something quickly, and we’re going to take more of our staff to visit the plant,” he says.
“I would suggest any retailer look at manufacturers in their area to find niches they can try selling in their stores,” he says.