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.

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Page 74 of 248

HARDWARE RETAILING | May 2018 62 Checkouts CATEGORY This Niche Hits a Sweet Spot S hoppers at Andy's Ace Hardware in Anchorage, Alaska, usually have a difficult time turning down a free sample of fresh fudge the retailer offers. For those who want to purchase some to take home, their biggest decision might be what flavor to try next. At any given time, there are approximately 25 different flavors in the fudge department at Andy's Ace, ranging from traditional favorites such as peanut butter, rocky road and chocolate, to the more adventurous, such as strawberry shortcake, orange cream, butter pecan and jalapeno. Owner Stephanie Van Ness says several of the hardware store's employees are trained to make the fudge. They make it in a kitchen on the store's second floor, and it's a simple process that only takes a few hours. "We generally make about 100 pounds a week, which we can keep for six weeks as we sell through it. The margins are very good since we make it ourselves," she says. Their vendor, Calico Cottage, provides them with all of the recipes and ideas for unique flavors. For a business that has many niches, having a fudge department centrally located on the salesfloor offers a perfect impulse buy, especially when there's a free sample to entice customers. Andy's Ace also sells Abdallah chocolates and freshly roasted nuts from the Nutty Bavarian Co., made in the store. "We offer free fudge samples all day, every day," says Van Ness. "Customers have to walk right past the fudge shop to get just about anywhere in the store. Business is very good around Christmas, because we have a post office in our store. When there's a line of people waiting to mail their packages, we often use the opportunity to offer fudge samples. This niche has really grown in the eight years we've had it." At any one time, the fudge department at Andy's Ace Hardware may have 25 different flavors of fudge. The department sits in a prominent place in the store, so customers are tempted with a tasty impulse purchase.

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