Hardware Retailing

APR 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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April 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 77 facility in Kasson, Minnesota. The result is a store that addresses multiple needs in the community, including an extensive rental selection, while maintaining a neat and clean atmosphere that welcomes all shoppers. The business operates a second location, Pine Island Hardware Hank, which offers a smaller rental department as well. The Power of Renting A rental department can serve many functions within a home improvement business. It can make a retail location a destination among surrounding communities, and rented products pay for themselves over time and produce high margins for retailers. Renting equipment also comes with serious hurdles, from up-front investment and training to servicing commitments and shrinkage risk. Building a respectable and trusted rental department requires a full-on commitment and a plan of action to make it a desirable commodity for consumers. Linda Cottin, who owns Cottin's Hardware & Rental with her husband Tom Cottin, developed a plan for the store's rental department in 1999. At the time, there were two other rental businesses in Lawrence serving different neighborhoods than where Cottin's Hardware & Rental is located. Cottin thought opening another rental facility for larger lawn and garden items, power tools and other products out of her hardware store would be more convenient than a drive across town. For Kasson Hardware Hank, the owners' goal of being a one-stop shop and boutique hardware destination transitioned naturally into rental. CEO Greg Kuball, who runs the business with chief financial officer and brother Troy, says almost 90 percent of his customers are DIYers and homeowners, and his rental options reflect that. The Kasson storefront is about more than hardlines sales and is a trusted facility for quality carpet cleaner rentals and party items like chairs, tables and even a bounce house. Cottin's Hardware & Rental also carries party supplies, including tables and chairs. "It's all part of being a complete store for the community, and rental plays its part in putting that whole image together," Kuball says. Other benefits include reliable visits from customers who have projects on their mind. Cottin uses an example of a customer who brings lawn care equipment in for tuneups twice a year. Those visits are opportunities to add purchases to the service and rental sales. Add-on sales go even further when combining rental equipment on some projects. Consumables, such as sanding paper, go along with renting the sander. If a customer is planning to start a garden, retailers should look to supply needs like seeds and fertilizer along with the tiller the customer is renting. The rental department at Cottin's Hardware & Rental offers a variety of tools and equipment, such as trowels, angle grinders and staple guns. The selection is designed to best serve current customers and assist area contractors.

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