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Products, Seminars, Programs Available to United Hardware Market Attendees

Last weekend, United Hardware retailers got a chance to see thousands of products and learn more about new opportunities during the United Hardware January Buying Market, held Jan. 10-12 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Gear Up, Get Outdoors

One area of the market that has continually expanded since its introduction last year and continues to draw retailers’ attention is the Gear Up, Get Outdoors area. This area, at the front of the market floor, featured spring and summer sets of sporting goods with a special incentive to purchase. It’s a category that continues to be popular with United Hardware retailers seeking to carve out their niches in their local markets. Given its continued popularity, the Gear Up, Get Outdoors area will be back at United Hardware’s June Buying Market.

New Interactive Mobile App

To cater to the growing number of tech-savvy retailers, United offered a new United Hardware Market App, which let users view maps and seminar, staff and vendor information and make reservations—for anything from a hotel to stay at during their trip to Minneapolis to a scooter they can use on the market floor. Once it’s been downloaded, the app can be reused again at future markets. The app works with all smartphones and tablets and is available in the Apple and Google Play stores.

For the first time, United Hardware also offered a free Wi-Fi connection to everyone on the market floor, a feature many attendees said they appreciated.

Store of Opportunity

In addition, the Store of Opportunity returned for another success year.  The Store of Opportunity is a special area of the market where items are sold at a discounted price of at least 30 percent, and is regularly one of the most popular features of the market. Retailers were able to spend the day Friday, Jan. 10, previewing items that could be added to their spring and summer sales floors before placing their orders Saturday, Jan. 11.

“The Store of Opportunity gives me the chance to try new items without bringing in a ton of inventory,” says Troy Sweep of Sweep Hardware in Clara City, Minn. “It minimizes risk and lets us try new products.”

“The Store of Opportunity is a big way that we work with retailers to help them invest in their stores and focus on growth,” Steve Draeger, president and CEO says.

New Products on Display

As always, new products and special, market-only deals were especially popular among retailers.

“We’ve been customer of United Hardware for more than 50 years,” says Danielle Lee, who works at City Center Hardware Hank in Barnesville, Minn. “Our store is a mix between a drugstore and hardware store, and we find this market helps us really explore new products and get market deals.”

Strategies for working a market are as unique as the retailers who attend the markets. For example, Dan Hron, owner of Johnson Hardware in Bloomington, Minn., was on the lookout for smaller, everyday items. “We look to leverage the deals and dating we can get. It’s hard to overcome customer perceptions, but we’re often the lower-priced on many items in our market.”

Retailers also had the opportunity to attend several seminars, including an informational session about new lighting legislation, a presentation about health insurance and more. Saturday morning began with an inspirational keynote presentation by First Sgt. Matt Everyman (ret.), hero of the epic film “Black Hawk Down” and the “Battle of Mogadishu.”

A New Website

One of the most popular seminars was about United Hardware’s new website, which was rolled out at the market. United Hardware staff conducted a seminar each day of the market to give retailers an opportunity to learn about easier catalog search ability, different options for placing online orders and other features the new website had to offer.

United Hardware’s development team released the site to its retailers before all its features are finalized, allowing opportunity for dealer feedback, as the goal of the new site is to provide a user-friendly tool for their retailers.

“We’re very excited about the new website,” says Steve Draeger. “Our retailers are very excited about the new features, and we think it’s a big step that will pay dividends in the future.”

Market Travel Rewards Program

Another new program at the market was the Market Travel Rewards Program. Through the new program, retailers gain rewards bucks through corporate and vendor-sponsored market promotions, which they are then able to use toward program is to help offset the costs of attending the markets.

About Amanda Bell

Amanda Bell was an assistant editor of Hardware Retailing and NRHA. Amanda regularly visited with home improvement retailers across the country and attended industry events and seminars. She earned a degree in magazine journalism from Ball State University and has received honors for her work for Hardware Retailing from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

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