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Positive Atmosphere, New Areas Highlighted at United Hardware Buying Market

UHDespite the cold weather in Minneapolis this past weekend, United Hardware retailers were thinking about the warmer weather as they worked the market floor at the United Hardware Spring & Summer Buying Market, held Jan. 9-11 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

One of the highlights of the market was the new Creative Support Services area at the front of the market floor. In November, the co-op’s advertising and marketing departments combined to form Creative Support Services, which is now responsible for creating circulars, handling ad programs and more. In the Creative Support Services area at the market, retailers could work with RepeatRewards on their loyalty programs, speak with representatives from FootSteps Marketing about their stores’ web presence, and more.

“It’s a whole new look for this department, and it’s certainly exciting,” says President and CEO Steve Draeger. “Our retailers’ response to this has been over the top.”

Strong Sales in 2014

It’s been a good year for United’s retailers, with same store sales being up almost 4 percent, number of transactions up, transaction size up and members’ average net profits at 6.7 percent, says Draeger.

“To see numbers like that is so rewarding,” he says. “It gives our retailers room to invest back in their businesses.”

Some of that investing could be used in one of the co-op’s programs that allows retailers to buy additional stores or make vast improvements to their current ones. “It’s exciting to be able to offer them these opportunities,” Draeger says.

“We want to help them increase their profitability and their success in their stores,” he says. “Whether it be the new Creative Support Services department, adding a new category of merchandise or other tools and programs that offer them ways to invest and improve their business is always our number one focus for our retailers.”

Getting Ready For Spring

The atmosphere on the market floor was a positive one, with many retailers looking forward to spring. Richard Dereus of Ankeny Hardware in Ankeny, Iowa, was shopping for spring and summer products.

“We’re getting gearing up for warmer weather and looking for new products and new displays,” says Dereus, who is a new retailer with United Hardware, having joined the co-op a month ago. “So far, United has been great for us. Their district managers and other staff have been so nice, and they’ve been great with supplying products.”

Cole Davis and Dan French of Hardware Hank located in Rapid City, South Dakota, were also shopping for new products, good deals, and spring items, as well as products for an up-and-coming hobby: bee-keeping.

“We believe bee-keeping is going to be that new popular hobby we want to take advantage of,” French says.

The next Buying Market will be June 11-14 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

About Liz Lichtenberger

Liz is the special projects editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and trends, visits retailers, and attends industry events. She graduated from Xavier University, where she earned a degree in English and Spanish and was a member of the swim team. Liz is a Louisville, Kentucky, native who lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children. She enjoys swimming, reading, doing home improvement projects around her house and cheering on her two favorite basketball teams, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Xavier Musketeers.

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