Hardware Retailing

FEB 2017

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 2017 74 organizations, focusing on topics ranging from what motivates individuals to open a home improvement operation to how consumers view the shopping experience at independent brick-and-mortar stores versus their big-box and online competitors. "Independent retailers are such a vital part of the home improvement industry, but because they are all independently operated businesses, they can be the most difficult to truly understand," says Rich Russo, vice president of the National Hardware Show, which has served as the event's exclusive sponsor for the past two years. "We want to lend our support to this important event, because anything we can do to help the industry better understand what these retailers need to succeed will only help the industry thrive." In addition to revealing results of research on a range of topics impacting independent retailers in the home improvement channel, the State of Independents Conference also featured panel discussions with retailers from across North America. "For me, the panels are one of the most valuable parts of the event," says TJ Comstock of Northwest Hardware, based in Billings, Montana. "The research is great, but I like hearing from other retailers about the challenges they are facing and what they are doing to address them." Insights Into Independents Along with the challenge of finding the right people to run and grow their businesses, retailers, through the research results and at the Conference, expressed concerns over issues such as the increasing amount of online competition as well as the growing burden of taxes and regulations on small businesses. In fact, the number of retailers mentioning concerns over increasing taxes and regulations as a challenge to growth increased by 5 percent over last year's study. "In our area of the country and our county, we are under a new minimum wage law, and we have new regulations specifying that we have to provide one hour of paid vacation for every 40 hours an employee works," says Dan Harris, State of Independents' panelist and owner of Palos Heights Ace Hardware in Illinois. "As small businesses, I just don't know how much more we can absorb with these kinds of regulations," he says. On the other end of the spectrum, retailers in NRHA's research and at the Conference also shared insights into the biggest opportunities they felt they had to grow their businesses. What would you say is the single biggest opportunity you have to grow your business? How have your overall sales performed YTD 2016 versus 2015? 23% Adding New Niches/Products Adding a New Location Operational Efficiencies Developing a Stronger Team Improved Marketing 15% 14% 13% 10% Increase Significantly Decrease Significantly Increase Moderately Decrease Moderately Remain the Same 10% 45% 22% 5% 18%

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