Ace retailers on a mission at the fall show

McChrystal-Stanley_150Ashley Spangler is a man on a mission when he hits the Ace convention show floor. Spangler, of Spangler’s Ace Hardware in Dover, Pennsylvania, was looking for fresh ideas — whether it was business tips or inventory. Ultimately, he hoped that whatever he brought back to his store would drive up his profit.

“We come for the good ideas and to see new items,” said Spangler from the show floor in Chicago. “You have to keep up on what’s out there and stay ahead of your competitors. It’s good to try new and different things. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it fails. You just keep trying.”

Allie Plessner of Stueber’s Ace Hardware in Park Falls, Wisconsin, was on a similar mission, although she faced a different kind of challenge. Stueber’s is located in a small town, so finding variety and unique products is her objective when attending the Ace shows.

“I like to find things that can only be found in a big city for our small town store — something that people can’t normally find around here,” she said.

For Plessner, the “big find” at the show was reasonably priced patio and outdoor furniture.

“It’s not only a small town, our residents have small budgets. So the items we bring back have to fit all budgets or it won’t sell,” she said.

In Brookhaven, Mississippi, Caleb Dorman of Perkins Hardware Enterprises, an Ace store is also on a mission to fill several niche needs in his father-son store expansion. In doubling the store’s square footage, Dorman plans to add farm and ranch, pet supplies, automotive, grills and more lawn and garden to the new store.

“We’re in the process of building a much bigger store, so we were looking for niche products that serve our rural area. It’s a little risky, but our competitors only offer some of what we’re looking to add,” Dorman said. “Our store will be finished in the spring, so we’ll be back at the spring show to place our orders.”

For a family-owned store, like Columbus Ace Hardware in Columbus, Montana, everyone had objectives — and assignments — while attending the show. Tyrel Hamilton, his wife, his mother and his father attended the show to assess both training and inventory needs.

“Whenever we come to the show, we have multiple objectives. The first thing we do is shop for the things we need on the first day and then look at what’s out there and what’s trending,” Hamilton said. “While some of us are looking at grills or lawn mowers, my wife is in training to deal with some software issues. Our objective there is to improve our training in the Ace Rewards program so we can do a better job in reaching our customers.”

The same is true for Justin Nena of Nena Ace Hardware in Peoria, Illinois. His objective in attending the show was to access pre-show leadership and inventory management training, in an effort to train his staff, and to order new inventory for his second and newest store.


Sept. 11