Hardware Retailing

FEB 2018

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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Page 97 of 112

February 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 89 F or one Idaho retailer, betting big in Las Vegas paid off. In May 2017, Robert Lau was on stage at the National Hardware Show ® , alongside nine other independent home improvement retailers. Rich Russo, vice president of the National Hardware Show, announced Caribou Jack's Trading Co. of Soda Springs, Idaho, as the first Reimagine Retail winner and recipient of $100,000 to jump-start an ambitious business plan. A few months earlier, Lau submitted an essay to the National Hardware Show's Reimagine Retail program, detailing how he'd spend the program's $100,000 to improve his business. Lau proposed building a farm-to-table restaurant in his home improvement and sporting goods store, wagering that combining the grilling and farming communities in his rural market would be a smart bet that could raise revenue and transform his company's brand. Playing to His Strengths Lau says consumables weren't always a big part of Caribou Jack's product offering, but after buying the store in 2010 and adding inexpensive and fast-moving impulse items near the cash register, he saw the category's potential. Soon, Lau started stocking sauces, marinades and rubs, displaying them next to new grills. By 2014, he was beginning to wonder how he could introduce a full restaurant into his operation. "I sell as much in barbecue products as I do in lawn and garden supplies," Lau says. "It's probably my third- or fourth-largest category and my No. 1 selling product brand features wood-fired grills and smokers." Without reducing the importance of his core home improvement categories, Lau's winning submission reimagined Caribou Jack's as a community gathering point, a place where DIYers could collect everything they needed for a weekend project, contractors could make large-scale inventory orders and a farm-to-table restaurant would serve everyone delicious, locally sourced fare. Top: Caribou Jack's Robert Lau is announced as the first winner of the National Hardware Show ® 's Reimagine Retail program. Bottom: Caribou Jack's in Soda Springs, Idaho, offers a full inventory of grills and consumables, which Lau says are popular with customers.

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