Hardware Retailing

FEB 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 | February 2019 56 Members of the consumer focus group began by discussing their general impressions of independent home improvement stores. Nels Olson, a millennial homeowner, says convenience and familiarity are big motivators for where he chooses to shop. "Independent businesses make you feel appreciated. I see the same people working there, and they recognize me. I feel like they actually have an interest in the projects I'm doing, and I don't get that at the big boxes I visit," he says. Melissa Tratensek, the group's sole Generation Z participant, says she doesn't have much experience with home repair projects, but when she has visited independent operations, she feels welcomed. "Every time I go to an independent, I find someone who actually listens and can help me, versus visiting a big box and leaving without even talking to someone," she says. Heather Kauffman-Peters, a Generation X participant, says she often finds special items when she shops at independent businesses. "You can find unique items when you shop independents," she says. "I've seen a lot of local and homemade products, which I really like." Hal Dickenson, a baby boomer who works as a contractor, says employee knowledge is much higher at independent operations. "At independent stores, it's always easy to find help, and they know what they're talking about," he says. "At the big-box stores, they run from you when they see you coming. As a contractor, I know what I'm looking for; I just might not know where to find it. So when I have to hunt someone down, that's not a good impression for me." For Lynnette Husted, a baby boomer homeowner who worked in retail as a teenager, one of the main advantages of choosing independents is working directly with the business owner. She says seeing a business owner on the salesfloor gives her confidence that the management team has a true stake in the satisfaction of its customers. Another advantage independents have according to the focus group was their community investment. Millennial Eric Burns says seeing independent businesses support the community promotes visibility and makes him more likely to choose independents. "I think it's great when independent businesses support their community," he says. "The big boxes aren't out there supporting softball teams, but when independents do it, it raises their visibility." Husted says in-store events are a major draw for her and other members of her cohort. She described a local independent operation that regularly stages Christmas open houses that include special sales and craft tutorials. She says these events are targeted toward women, but they were powerful ways to get customers like her through the doors and ready to spend money. "I look for that postcard invitation to come every year. It's something I really look forward to," she says. Meet the Generations General Home Improvement Views The focus group included representatives from the four most active age groups in retail, according to the Pew Research Center. Among them were new homeowners, DIYers and independent service providers, including masons and arborists. • Baby boomers are the oldest active retail group. Its members were born between 1946 and 1964. • Generation X have been active consumers for some time. Its members were born between 1965 and 1980. • Millennials are increasingly prominent in retail. Its members were born between 1981 and 1996. • Generation Z is the youngest retail cohort. Its members were born between 1997 and 2015. Hal Dickenson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Boomer Lynnette Husted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Boomer Dan Vernon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Generation X Heather Kauffman-Peters . . . . . . Generation X Eric Burns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Millennial Nels Olson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Millennial Mike Long . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Millennial David Dickenson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Millennial Amy Baldwin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Millennial Melissa Tratensek . . . . . . . . . . . Generation Z

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