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 58 For several focus group participants, one drawback of independents is their small footprint and occasionally limited inventory. Some said if they were searching for a more specialized item, they may skip independents entirely and visit big boxes, preferring to avoid losing time visiting an independent only to find a specific item isn't in stock. Generation X participant Dan Vernon works as the general manager for a small tree care business, and he shops whichever store can get him the tools and equipment his business needs to get back to work. "I've got a clock ticking in my head—it's just dollar signs on fire. I go to big boxes sometimes just because I assume they'll have an item. What I can't afford is going to a store and learning they don't have what I need," he says. To maximize inventory and become a one-stop destination, Vernon suggests independents meet with local small business owners to learn more about the specific tools and equipment they need to do their jobs. By stocking specialty items or at least becoming more familiar with key tools, retailers can enjoy closer relationships with local service providers. General Home Improvement Views • In-store treats were incredibly popular for all generations. Explore easy-to-prepare snacks you could provide to customers. Also consider inviting food trucks to your parking lot—many participants say food trucks pique their interest. • The group did express worries that independents may have smaller inventories. If you do face inventory restrictions, train employees to quickly suggest special orders to satisfy customers and clinch sales. Also, advertise that you can get most products from warehouses in as little as two days. • Many members said seeing business owners on the salesfloor was an important element of shopping at independent businesses. Nametags that include titles can be an easy way to instill trust among your customers that the business owner is directly involved with day-to-day operations. Put It to Use Heather Kauffman-Peters (left), Melissa Tratensek (center) and Hal Dickenson shared their views on independent businesses.

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