Hardware Retailing

OCT 2016

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 | October 2016 50 integrated a store-within-a-store decor theme. Intrigued by the strategy, the trio wanted to see it firsthand. Aubuchon's store-within-a-store included a full assortment of Benjamin Moore paint, using elements of the paint retailer's signature decor theme. The space also featured tables and chairs at the entrance to the department to allow customers a place to sit down and consult with paint staff on everything from color and sheen to overall decorating project needs. It even included a TV monitor playing how-to videos or HGTV programming to position the space as more of an idea center than just a place in the store where paint is mixed. "We liked Aubuchon's strategy of incorporating an experience area so customers can come in and feel more comfortable shopping, like at a professional paint store," says Potter. And having integrated a store-within-a-store concept in Wilco's lifestyle clothing department several years prior, and seeing dramatic sales increases as a result, Potter, Colson and Ricksger knew a similar concept could work in the paint and sundries department as well. Shortly after the meeting with Aubuchon, the decision was made to move forward with a more conservative version of a store-within-a-store. "We don't generally invest much in store decor," says Colson. "We keep it simple and neutral. But we wanted to incorporate the paint decision area with decorative flooring and lighting to highlight the department." The plan also called for keeping the size of the department within its existing 400-square-foot space. The Wilco team also liked the premium brand assortment strategy being employed by Aubuchon. "We knew we needed to have a premium brand to coincide with our overall focus on quality, and after our category managers completed their research, we chose Benjamin Moore as well," says Ricksger. "One key factor we considered is that there aren't a lot of Ben Moore dealers in the markets where we have stores. But we didn't go into this project trying to make Ben Moore work; we went into it knowing we had to make a premium brand work." The go-forward strategy would include adding the full line of Benjamin Moore liquid paint to the existing private-label paint assortment from Wilco's co-op, which would be used to provide both entry- and mid-level pricing options. The Training Component It was clear to Potter, Colson and Ricksger that their massive paint and sundries department reset project, which included eight existing stores, would address the five "Ps" of marketing and differentiation: product, placement, people, Wilco's redesign of the paint department includes an "experience area," where customers and paint consultants can sit down and pick colors or discuss decorating options.

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