Hardware Retailing

MAY 2018

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

Issue link: https://hardwareretailing.epubxp.com/i/971427

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Page 122 of 248

HARDWARE RETAILING | May 2018 110 HR: What unique challenges do you think independent retailers face in today's market? JG: The stock answers for all of us have to do with online competition, securing inventory that can provide healthy margins and creating a workplace that inspires people to choose retail in 2018. Those are all real and massive challenges. It is increasingly difficult to target the trades as customers, and as that workforce diminishes, who will replace them? Home Depot, Lowe's and others are bringing solutions to the table, but the skilled labor shortage is a national stigma that we all should be working together to address. What's the solution to the diminishing trade workforce? How can independent retailers help bring them back? I really think we need to stop talking about it on a micro level. Everyone needs to come together. The entire industry—all the big boxes and the independents and NRHA—needs to be in the same room and agree to the same message. There needs to be a message targeted to parents that takes the shame away from choosing the trades as a career path. It's an important conversation, and all of us need to participate in it. Everyone needs to find their comfort level. It's critical at this point, as far as doing your part. As a first step, we're implementing tool-buying programs for people who have just completed trade programs. We get a customer, and they get discounted products. I would encourage every store to find what the version of a trade program is in their community. Whether it's a city program, a trade school, a union, whoever it is that still supports skilled labor and trades. Partner with those groups, not necessarily financially, but let them know you support them and want to help. It's harder and harder to be independent, but so many owners I know connect to their cities in such a critical way and that's inspiring. HR: Can you talk about the value and importance you place in furthering your education and networking with other independent retailers? JG: I learn from other retailers on a weekly basis and I am so thankful for it. Center Hardware is stronger because of it. We make sure our staff is always learning by engaging our vendors as teachers for product knowledge and listening to staff feedback. It's important to get outside feedback, too, and check your ego at the door. We have found valuable ideas from people outside the hardware channel because it's a fresh point of view. We also got recommendations from other independent stores to find other types of products we should carry. Products that relate to hardware, but are locally made. I've also looked at places outside the industry for hiring. I've talked to other retailers in town to find out how they are recruiting people to work in their shops. A well-run business can look like anything. I've also gotten a lot of information using direct messages on Instagram. On social media, people respond immediately. If I can't get access to a higher up person, I'll reach out to the company in a direct message on Instagram, and every time, I've gotten what I needed. I think retailers everywhere can find those opportunities. It's rare that you are a lone wolf in town. If you are isolated, you can still build that network. You can take part of a day once a month and go have lunch with someone. Connect yourself to other people. The event at Center Hardware & Supply that raised money for the trade program at the local high school brought in 150 attendees. " It's harder and harder to be independent, but so many owners I know connect to their cities in such a critical way and that's inspiring. "

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