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Retailers Seek Opportunities at United Hardware Market

Retailers hit the floor of the 2016 United Hardware June Buying Market, held June 17-19 at the Minneapolis Convention Center, looking for promotional items, new categories and a strong start to the second half of the year.

“With the arrival of spring, our customers are feeling positive about the coming season,” says United Hardware president and CEO, Steve Draeger. “We’re using this market to expose our customers to some of the trending categories and encourage them to continue to invest in their businesses.”

New items could be seen in vendor booths across the market floor, but one of the categories that continues to draw a lot of attention from consumers these days is grilling and outdoor cooking. United Hardware dedicated a large portion of the front of the market floor to grills, smokers and cooking and grilling accessories, giving retailers merchandising and assortment suggestions so they can become destinations for the category.

“Our Grilling and Cooking Power Program helps us tie indoor and outdoor cooking together with a major focus on accessories, which will help retailers drive more repeat sales in this category,” says Draeger. “It’s one of many products we have here at the market that will help our customers build traffic.”

Sharon Neel, from Lake Lumber in Panora, Iowa, was browsing the grilling and cooking displays looking for new products she could integrate into her store.

“United did a good job putting this area together as it allows me to see this entire category in one area and see how they might make sense in my store,” she says. “We’re considering increasing our purchasing in this area.”

Knowing that many do-it-yourselfers are driven to start projects based on what they see on social media, the market also highlighted the popular “pipe décor projects,” which involve creating common household items, such as lamps and towel holders, out of black iron pipe.

“Retailers who stay on top of what’s trending on Pinterest and other social media platforms, and then have a plan for marketing those projects in their stores will find yet another way of differentiating themselves from their competitors,” says Draeger. “It’s great to see so many dealers taking advantage of both our planograms well as our marketing pieces to promote this in their stores.”

In addition to an emphasis on product categories, the United Hardware June Market offered attendees access to tools for marketing. The co-op’s Creative Support Services department continues to introduce upgrades to its circular program and reports a significant increase in the number of retailers using the program.

Attendees could get more information on specific vendors or on some of United Hardware’s specific programs in short training seminars on the market floor. Lunch-and-learn sessions offered more learning opportunities as industry experts Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender offered two seminars on optimizing the retail environment and digital marketing, and Lee and Terrance Resnick offer advice on succession planning.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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