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True Value Reunion Focuses on Wow Factor

True Value retailers gathered in the Windy City this past weekend looking for deals, networking opportunities and the chance to win $250,000 in product inventory at the co-op’s Fall Reunion, which ran from Sept. 18-20.

The theme of the three-day event was “the Value of Wow,” which the company says applies to both how retailers should seek to wow customers with expert advice and superior service and how the co-op was hoping to wow its retail members with plans to enhance retailer relevance and profitability.

Held at Chicago’s McCormick Place, the Reunion got started on Friday when the showfloor opened and retailers were able to see new products across all core categories, browse the trends and meet with True Value representatives face-to-face.

After a full day on the showfloor, attendees then headed to the company’s general session Friday afternoon.

John Hartmann, True Value president and CEO, kicked off the general session by sharing ways the company plans to drive sales growth through its strategic plan initiatives.

“As we accelerate into 2016, prepare to be wowed by what’s now, what’s new and what’s next,” Hartmann says. “Paint, transportation, retail excellence, our international business, product and merchandising and brand awareness are all designed to add to the value of wow for every customer’s experience.”

Hartmann also shared a few key points with the crowd in regards to the financial results.

“Coming off of our historic financial sales results of last year and the first half of this year, our wholesale comp-store sales are (up) 3.2 percent and our (Desitination True Value) retail comp-store sales are (up) 5.6 percent, right in line with the industry competitor,” Hartmann says.

Members of the True Value executive team also shared details and updates on programs available for members. Tim Mills, senior vice president of growth, shared stories of retail excellence among members and announced the unveiling of True Value’s Retail Playbook, a tool to provide co-op members with retail best practices in one convenient reference.

“Essentially, the Retail Playbook is nothing more than best practices and functional processes,” Mills says. “No one is an expert in everything, so if they’re having an issue in one area, they can get help.”

A few additional highlights from the general session were the focus on paint, pricing initiatives, brand awareness and the continued focus on national advertising for 2016.

Before sending attendees on their way to the Welcome Reception at the Museum of Science and Industry, Hartmann announced the first of four retailers to earn $250,000 in product inventory for their stores through the $1 Million WOW-Giveaway. The additional three winners were announced on the following two days of the Reunion. The retailers who won were: Joe and Becky Neys from Brooks Hardware in Salem, Oregon; Dana and Jamie Wallace from Kootenai Drug True Value in Troy, Montana; Christian Johnson from True Value in Excelsior, Minnesota; and Carl Gibbs Jr. from Gibbs True Value in Ashland, Kentucky.

In addition to the updates and announcements revealed at the general session by Hartmann and the executive team, guests, vendors and retailers had the chance to browse the wide assortment of products.

When entering the showfloor, attendees saw the wide assortment of outdoor patio furniture, an extensive showcase of grills, including the Weber Grill Academy Truck, which is a 53-foot truck showroom that acts as a walkthrough museum with old photos and Weber products that have been around since 1962.

The co-op featured what it called “WOW 100 Deals”, which provided retailers the chance to receive an additional five percent on the discounted price of merchandise labeled as WOW 100 merchandise.

“Last year we had the Friday Frenzy’s, the WOW 100 is like that, but with more items,” says Chad Koep of Fairmont True Value in Fairmont, Minnesota. “The WOW 100 offers phenomenal savings and we’ve been checking it out.”

Koep said his time at the show was spent looking for deals, new products and taking the time to look into opening a third store.

Longtime True Value members, brothers Dustin and Jason Kempker of the four-store Iowa chain of Kempker’s True Value attended the Reunion with their wives. The brothers had been attending the show with their grandfather, who opened his business in Fort Madison, Iowa, 45 years ago.

“We’ve attended the shows since we were kids,” Dustin says. “We always went to St. Louis and Chicago Reunions.”

Both Jason and Dustin said that they were most excited about the chance to earn $250,000 in merchandise for one of their stores. “We have four stores,” Jason says. “We could go four for four!”

The True Value Spring and Rental Reunion is slated for Feb 19-21 in Houston, Texas.

About Renee Changnon

Renee Changnon is the retail outreach coordinator for NRHA. She meets with retailers in their stores and at industry events and introduces them to the services NRHA provides. Renee previously worked as a member of the NRHA communications team. She earned a degree in visual journalism from Illinois State University, where she served as the features editor for the school newspaper. After college, she implemented marketing and promotions initiatives at Jimmy John’s franchise locations across the country. She enjoys exploring books with her book club, Netflix marathons and hosting goat yoga at her apartment complex. Renee Changnon 317-275-9442 rchangnon@nrha.org

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