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World of Home Improvement, Online Trends Open National Hardware Show®

The home improvement industry’s largest global event kicked off this morning amid great fanfare. The 69th annual National Hardware Show® began with a bang as exhibitors and attendees gathered at the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) Village Stage anticipating the moment when the doors to the show floor would open.

Many, including Tom Courtright from Orchard Nurseries in Walnut Creek, California, have been looking forward to the event all year.

“We are always looking for new and different products for lawn and garden,” he says. “We enjoy the show and enjoy the city.”

Shortly after the opening ceremony, which included stilt-walkers, confetti cannons and cheerleaders, keynote and educational seminars began as part of the NRHA All-Industry Conference, an event co-located with the National Hardware Show that continues through Thursday.

“Every year, the National Hardware Show contributes to the success of the industry,” says Bill Lee, NRHA’s president and CEO. “Not only does it provide educational, informational and networking opportunities for both retailers and their partners, it also makes NRHA’s in-depth conference program possible by providing the exhibit and meeting space it needs.”

Areas of Focus
After the invigorating grand opening ceremony, both exhibitors and attendees were ready to hit the show floor to find new products, discover the breadth of merchandise represented and connect with others in the industry.

The diverse products represented were organized by category, which included a newcomer this year, Emergency Preparedness & Disaster Recovery. The more than 30 exhibitors in this category, including Concrobium Mold-Fighting Solutions and Voxx Accessories Corporation, joined the more than 2,500 exhibitors overall.

“It’s great to see the industry getting more involved in this category and even featuring it at the show this year,” says Jeana White, executive vice president of new business development, UST Brands, makers of a 30-day lantern. “We’re showcasing some of our best items at the show.”

Attendees also were drawn to the New Product Launch Spotlight and Innovation Station.

“I am at the show to see new products and to discuss my own product with potential buyers,” says Brittany Anderson of T.D.L. Industries. “There is a lot to see and many interesting products.”

Another show floor hot spot was Hardware and Tools, where traditional hardlines manufacturers presented their latest in product development.

“Traffic has been good, the exhibitors seem charged, buyers are getting purchase orders,” says Brett Demello, national account manager for Kreg Enterprises, who has attended the show for at least 10 years. “People see this show as offering a great mix of products in a cost-effective venue.”

Wealth of Information
Another feature of the show, the NRHA All-Industry Conference hosts speakers and breakout sessions throughout the show. Located on the NRHA Village Stage, attendees are invited to listen and participate in discussions on a range of topics.

Speakers for the Conference include industry professionals, as well as big-name celebrities. Mark Herbek, senior research analyst with the Cleveland Research Company, presented “Amazon and Beyond,” a discussion of the business habits and trends of one of the largest retailers.

“Suppliers and retailers now must develop multichannel strategies for their supply chains, including direct-to-consumer, wholesale, owned brick and mortar locations, third-party distributors, e-commerce and more,” he says. “Businesses that have the talent and flexibility to execute multichannel strategies faster than their peers will be the winners of the next platform of commerce.”

Another presenter, David Crowe, chief economist, economics and housing policy, National Association of Home Builders, discussed the future of housing and how the economy will influence it.

Seminars also focused on spotting consumer trends and honoring industry excellence.

Other presentations included the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) Packaging and Merchandising Awards seminar. Allison DeWitt, NRHA’s director of member services and events, hosted the seminar and shared judges’ comments and their reasons for choosing the winners.

“We had many great entries this year, but the judges tended to select products that displayed information clearly,” she said.

Winners are displayed in the NRHA Village. Check out the May issue of Hardware Retailing, for more information about the winners.

Get Ready for Wednesday
With one day down, there still is plenty to look forward to on the second day of the National Hardware Show®. The show opens again at 8 a.m. and will stay open until 5 p.m., giving attendees the chance to visit those exhibitors they couldn’t quite make it to today. As they make their rounds, attendees should remember to visit the new Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery area and stop by the many booths in the International Area.

In the midst of this activity, two presentations will provide attendees the opportunity to learn about the homebuying market. After the opening ceremony, Hardware Retailing will profile today’s homeowner. She’ll be followed by Jill Waage, editorial director home content for Better Homes and Gardens magazine, who will talk about millennial homebuyers from 10 to 10:45 a.m.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to harness the power of the Internet to grow your business, plan to attend the discussions of online and social media and digital marketing strategies for small businesses.

The afternoon starts with the Top Gun Awards by NRHA and Hardware Retailing’s Dan Tratensek and ends with the Retailers’ Choice Awards.

Keep your eyes open for Joe Namath, John Ratzenberger of “Cheers” fame, and HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” who will be on hand to discuss keeping up with trends on a budget from
2 to 2:45 p.m.

Times for all speakers and events are in the Show Daily, on your NHS mobile app and on show signage.

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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