Let Others Work for You

If your local milk bar, video store and petrol station aren’t stocking basic hardware lines, perhaps it’s time to fill the void!

Distribution governs the way the retail world operates, and there are plenty of “potential” outlets for hardware goods that have slipped through the suppliers’ nets. Hardware store operators, fortunately, are in a position to enhance their sales by acting as suppliers to a range of these small, non-traditional outlets.

How extensive is the basic hardware selection at your petrol station? Does your local video store stock power cords, electrical adaptors, powerboards and storage paraphernalia? Are there tap washers and fasteners at the corner milk bar?

All the above outlets are potential customers of hardware stores, mainly because they are too small to deal directly with hardware manufacturers or general wholesalers, and they probably do not possess the storage facilities to hold dozens of hardware lines. BUT a nearby hardware store could act as a handy and regular supplier of goods, striking one-on-one deals with each local independent proprietor for steady offerings of “after hours” or “emergency-style” ranges. Weekly stock replenishment might take the form of a telephone call, followed by a quick visit from the hardware store van.

Far from detracting from the main hardware store business, such sales could be viewed as add-on sales servicing mainly convenience markets – and these subordinate outlets would be selling glue, nails, electrical adaptors, etc, mostly outside of the main hardware store’s operating hours.

Furthermore, decent margins could be protected because the small outlets could price their ranges at “impulse” or “after hours” levels.

There are loads of unusual outlets that might jump at the chance to act as resellers for goods sourced from their friendly hardware retailer. Veterinary clinics might welcome the opportunity to sell mats, bird feeders and scissors. Delicatessens might choose to complement their displays with homeware or cooking lines. TV repairers might see value in offering shelving, hand tools or wall-mount TV supports.

Sales from these non-traditional resellers might be sporadic and even occasional, but some extra sales are better than none at all. And there is always the possibility that a partner retailer might strike success with a niche, appreciative clientele.

Certainly, it is worth scanning your local retail environment for potential reseller associates – you might discover untapped markets in the most unlikely places.

By John Power