No place like home

You can go home again, after all. Ace Hardware Corp. is returning to its Chicago roots for its spring convention, to be held April 1 to 3 at McCormick Place Convention Center. To commemorate its homecoming, the Ace Spring 2011 Convention & Exhibits will focus on the core values and philosophies that transformed this small chain of stores into one of the industry’s leading cooperatives.


The conference will feature seminars, show specials, new products, and retailer and vendor networking events.


One objective of the spring convention is to give buyers access to top brands and innovative ideas. Following is a closer look at the key vendors and product initiatives that will be on display:


Craftsman


The Craftsman booth was a popular place at last fall’s convention, which included a 48-ft. Craftsman tool display. For spring, Ace will showcase a Craftsman set incorporated into the “Convenience” planogram. The set is intended for stores of up to 6,000 sq. ft.


The Battery Place


Batteries have always enjoyed a strong presence in Ace stores. With the addition of The Battery Place, the category has become even bigger and, perhaps, more profitable. At the spring convention, The Battery Place principals will share some early point-of-sale data from the initial launch and discuss what has been done with the program, according to Santo Lee, promotional electrical buyer. “We’re seeing success and hearing success, and now we’ll share some early sales results,” he said. The Battery Place helps buyers tap into the $15 billion battery market by adding a 40-sq.-ft. store-within-a-store display that carries all the batteries a customer would need.


“We are known for providing service and having hard-to-find items,” said Kevin Nyberg of Nyberg’s Ace, one of the test stores. “I find The Battery Place an important niche for our stores, and it ties into our marketing strategy perfectly.” Nyberg called The Battery Place “convenient, helpful and competitively priced.”


Benjamin Moore and 
Ace Paint


The introduction of the “Two Great Brands, One Superior Opportunity” program proved successful for Ace. The program merges Benjamin Moore’s line of premium interior products with Ace Paint’s core lineup to create a selection that can serve DIY shoppers at various price points. Ace’s goal is to help more than 2,000 stores add the Benjamin Moore paint program by June.


News about the July launch of the Ace brand and primer-in-one will also be revealed at the spring convention. “Our goal is to understand all the needs of paint consumers so we can build programs accordingly,” Rice said. “This will help us generate more revenue dollars for the retailers.”


Product Preview


What is a convention without innovations? Just a networking event, right? Fortunately for attendees, there are new products, innovations and networking opportunities.


‘Preserve’ sales


With the canning trend in full swing, growing your garden and canning categories is a must, according to Karen Helton, housewares buyer for Ace. “Canning is a strong category for Ace,” she said. “We’ve seen double-digit growth for the past three years, and one of our advantages is the fact that our stores dedicate space to the category year-round and not just in season. It’s definitely a competitive advantage.”


Department 6L will offer discounts on pressure canners and canning accessories. Look for specials on ball canning jars from Jarden Home Products and pressure canners from National Presto.


Get clean


Department 1C is launching a new cleaning planogram. These 40-ft. business modules will include cleaning tools, mops and brooms. In addition, Phase III will set up the planogram in stores. Off-show deals of 50% will be offered to buyers. As well, buyers who sign up for the complete Discovery set will get their name entered into a daily raffle for an iPod. e