Renee Changnon, retail engagement specialist for the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA), has been to more stores than she can count. In her eight years with the association, she has taken over nine road trips to stores across the country and has been on numerous store visits in between.
“Since I’ve been with NHPA, the leaders have been passionate about our team getting out into retail stores,” Changnon says. “As a writer, it can be difficult to get to know your audience when you don’t get to see them in person. I’m proud of NHPA’s investment into making store visits and road trips a priority. As a staff, we are able to do our jobs better and more efficiently when we can get out and see the retailers who make the hardware industry so special.”
In 2023, Changnon is excited to take NHPA On the Road to the next level. This travel series takes NHPA team members out of the office and into stores all over the U.S. once a quarter, allowing the team to build relationships with members, showcase outstanding retail operations and highlight the amazing aspects that make the industry so special. Kicking off the new year, Chagnon and other NHPA team members will head out to the Pacific Northwest. Follow NHPA on social media for all the highlights.
Check out some highlights from previous travels online and tune in to the “Taking Care of Business” podcast at YourNHPA.org/Taking-Care-of-Business for an interview with Changnon on the importance of NHPA On the Road. She talks about the associations’ overall mission of helping independent retailers, regardless of affiliation, build a better, more profitable business.
Q&A With Retail Engagement Specialist, Renee Changnon
Hardware Retailing (HR): What do you love most about traveling with NHPA?
Renee Changnon (RC): In my eight years with NHPA, I’ve had the chance to travel all over North America, visiting our members and learning what matters to them. While I love going on adventures and seeing new places, getting to do it as part of my job and tying in my love of meeting people and sharing their story is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.
HR: What trip or store visit stands out to you most over the years?
RC: I’ve been to more stores than I can count. It’s hard to select one as a favorite but there are several stores that have left a lasting impression. During my New England road trip a few years ago, I visited Harry’s Hardware & The Den in Vermont. They had a bar with live music inside their hardware store, and it was the prime example of a tight-knit community. I’ve been to McGuckin Hardware in Boulder, Colorado, a few times over the years when I’ve been in the area for markets. Their store is not only situated in a beautiful area but the inside is amazing. Finally, Sullivan Hardware & Garden in Indianapolis is an exceptional store that impresses me every time I go shopping.
HR: Any tips on what you think makes a store shine?
RC: The stores that leave the biggest impression are clean, well lit and have an amazing staff at their foundation. Add in some unique products or a focused niche that customers can only find at that store and you’ve got a hook. All the stores I mentioned incorporate a sense of community building and fun. If you can do that, you’ll have customers for life.
Read about previous NHPA on the Road trips and the stores they visited on YourNHPA.org/on-the-road.