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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HARDWARE RETAILING | February 2018 90 Lau's timing couldn't be better. The American Culinary Federation recently surveyed 700 of its members to learn what those chefs saw as the top food trends of 2018. Hyper-local food topped the list, thanks to the fact that many customers see locally sourced produce and meats as a delicious guarantee of quality. Building a Dream After winning, Lau and the Caribou Jack's team began working to make their dream a reality. The first step was constructing a storage shed Lau calls The Barn that could withstand brutal Idaho winters, while keeping inventory safe and dry. Building The Barn would clear space within Caribou Jack's for the restaurant. To make it all work, Lau and his team needed to totally reset the store, moving nearly every department in the process. "Resetting a store is no fun. It's hard work for everyone, and we're a small store, but it was totally necessary. Now the store flows better, but it took a lot of manpower to get it done," Lau says. When he purchased Caribou Jack's in 2010, Lau became the sixth owner since the business began as Gagon Lumber in 1870. His roots in the community run deep; his great-great-grandfather helped settle the town nearly a century ago. Even with a sudden influx of cash, Lau wanted to stick close to the business's history as he redesigned the store. A Gracious Winner The Winning Moment So, what's it like to have your business win a $100,000 investment on a Las Vegas stage? "Time kind of slows down for a second," Lau says. "I remember Rich Russo warning us not to stand too close to a confetti cannon, but I must have backed up, and all of a sudden, confetti hit me right in the back." Lau's wife Elizabeth was recording the program on her phone, and when their business was announced as the Reimagine Retail winner, she dropped the phone in excitement. As the shock wore off, Lau had a clear focus: congratulating the nine other finalists. "They put in some awesome submissions of their own," Lau says. "I wanted to make sure they knew how much I appreciated their ideas. The more we as retailers share with each other, the better we're all going to be." What's Your Idea? Reimagine Retail is looking for the next big idea in hardware retailing. For more information on 2018 program rules and to apply online, visit nationalhardwareshow.com/reimagine-retail. Idaho retailer Robert Lau (second from right) brought his whole family to the 2017 Reimagine Retail program, which took place during the 2017 National Hardware Show ® in Las Vegas. Lau says The Barn was the first step toward his goal of building a farm-to-table restaurant. This early photo shows the beginning of The Barn's foundation.

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