Hardware Retailing

JAN 2019

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | January 2019 10 L ast month, NRHA hosted its fourth annual State of Independents Conference in Chicago. I'm happy to report that this conference not only drew the largest number of attendees we've ever had at the event, but we also brought in the largest retailer audience to date. NRHA launched the State of Independents Conference to provide a singular voice for independent home improvement retailers. We conduct a lot of research in advance of the event—what opportunities you see for growth and what some of the challenges are that may provide obstacles to that growth. We also ask retailers from all over North America to serve as guest speakers and panelists at the event to share their insights directly with attendees. Since we started hosting these conferences, the frank discussions prompted by our retail speakers and panelists have truly stood out as highlights of the events. For those of you who couldn't make it to last month's conference, I wanted to point out a few things that I certainly took away from our retail speakers. Joseph Franquinha from Crest Hardware in New York shared his insights about how important it is for independent retailers to embrace their uniqueness. Franquinha's one-store operation in the heart of Brooklyn is a perfect representation of the eclectic community surrounding it: from its bright-red exterior to a lush garden center and locally generated artwork dotting the walls. Zach Coblentz from Hartville Hardware in Ohio talked about how even a large operation can find ways to grow. He focused much of his conversation not just on the operation's plans for physical growth, but also how much emphasis the management places on growing the people who work at Hartville. "If you focus on helping your employees grow, your business will follow suit," he advised. Elliot Greenberg, owner of the 38-unit, Chicago-based JC Licht stores, gave an impassioned speech to attendees about how important it is to have an aggressive growth plan for your business. Greenberg said growing a business helps create opportunities for employees, create economies of scale with vendors and keeps a business focused. Perhaps most importantly, he told the crowd that they should never be discouraged by business setbacks because "there is always another move you can make." In addition to these great keynote speakers and the insights from our retail panelists, perhaps one of the messages that resonated the most during the 2018 State of Independents Conference came from Samantha Post of T&M Hardware in Pennsylvania. Post was the first-ever recipient of the NRHA/Independent We Stand Spirit of Independents Award, which recognizes retailers who go above and beyond to support the shop local movement. In her humble acceptance of this award, Post pointed out how honored she was to be a small business owner and how she saw it as a duty to not only support her community, but to do her best to champion other local business owners in her area. In this new year, perhaps we can focus on differentiating our businesses, growing our people, developing our operations and supporting those around us. Dan M. Tratensek, Publisher dant@nrha.org Checking In on the State of Independents Taking Care of Business " In this new year, perhaps we can focus on differentiating our businesses, growing our people, developing our operations and supporting those around us. "

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