Retailers attending United Hardware’s 2016 January Buying Market were approaching the New Year with optimism as they looked for new products, ways to refresh core categories and marketing solutions for their stores. The market, held Jan. 8-10 at the Minneapolis Convention Center, opened with strong attendance, an indicator that the Plymouth, Minnesota-based co-op was continuing to provide solutions for retailers looking for ways to grow their businesses.
“We had a solid year in 2015 with strong sales in our core categories,” says United Hardware president and CEO Steve Draeger. A lack of severe weather across the Midwest meant slower winter sales, but United Hardware customers were finding ways to boost business, says Draeger.
“We had a lot of customers remodeling their stores last year,” he says. “On average, the remodels we helped complete last year are experiencing an 18 percent sales growth and we’ve already had quite a few stores signing up for a reset or remodel this year.”
At the January Buying Market, highlighted areas included the new items area, and the impulse and promotional items area, all of which received a lot of attention from attendees.
“We do very well with impulse items, especially those at the cash register,” says Cherri Hagen, of C & E Hardware in Shoreview, Minnesota. Like many in attendance, she hoped to use her time at the market to catch up on product trends and find ways to incorporate them into her store. “I’m looking at LED lighting and all of the changes in that category. LED flashlights, in particular, have been big sellers for us.”
Steve Hamming, owner of Harbor Hardware in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, saw double-digit growth in sales every month last year, and said he was at the market looking for ways to continue that momentum in 2016. “We’re looking for new products to add to our product mix,” he says. “United has done a good job of organizing the market this year, and there are some great displays.”
Another hub of activity was United’s Creative Support Services area, featuring United Hardware’s recently enhanced advertising program. “Our Creative Support Team has been busier than ever, as the recent changes we’ve made to our advertising program has been embraced very well by our customers,” Draeger says.
“Overall, retailers are excited about the New Year and finding new opportunities. We’re seeing more and more of them taking an interest in specialty categories as well as the impulse-type items, which can build traffic, add to average transaction size and gain market share,” he says.