Hardware Retailing

DEC 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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December 2017 | HARDWARE RETAILING 47 F or Porters Building Centers, growth wasn't something external like a new location or added square footage. Instead, owner Kent Porter, his daughter Natalie and his son Alex saw expansion in the form of an added category within their Kearney, Missouri, location. Beginning with an encounter with Hallmark Cards representatives at a buying market, Kent Porter and his team began the process of adding a Hallmark Gold Crown location within their hardware and building supply store. To put it in Porter's words, Hallmark simply made too much sense to turn down. "They made us an offer we couldn't refuse," Kent says. "Hallmark has the quality name, and that fits with how we have built our business. We only stock items of the highest quality, and we felt Hallmark only added to that." Porters Building Centers entered into an agreement with Hallmark where the retail business agreed to carry Hallmark products for five years. The business would also need to create a segmented space for the Hallmark products to be housed. Luckily, they already had the building materials needed for the project in their lumberyard. Porters was able to source several of the items needed for the upgrade from its own suppliers, like bulbs for the track lighting, keeping costs down during the renovation. Hallmark provided the fixtures and covered the initial inventory, but Natalie Porter, who has taken on the buying responsibilities in the Hallmark store, and her team have been able to customize the product selection according to customer feedback. One of those customizations has been the addition of Simply Southern products, which offers clothing, accessories and gifts geared toward women. "Simply Southern is something that shows how we've grown our customer base. We're a great destination for couples now, with the hardware and lumber and now with Hallmark, gifts and clothing," Natalie says. "It's a different, more diverse clientele. It just keeps increasing our add-on sales." Product rotation and staff buy-in have been key for the new concept's success, Alex Porter says. The first order of business after the Hallmark store was fully installed was to hire someone who could work in both the new gifts area as well as the rest of the store. "You need someone really invested in these products in that area, someone who can interact with customers and be excited about gifts and cards," Alex says. "Otherwise, you aren't offering the atmosphere that those customers expect." The Porters have also kept products rotated by design and necessity. Hallmark staggers release dates for items like Christmas tree ornaments, which also keeps the selection fresh. "We keep products rotating, especially with Christmas rollouts and cards," Natalie says. "When 65 percent of the store is cards, variety is really important." Kent Porter and his family decided to put a Hallmark Gold Crown store within the Kearney, Missouri, location of Porters Building Centers. Store Within a Store

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