A lot of folks might think it’s unusual that a painter’s tape manufacturer shares yearly design trends, but great ideas are great ideas wherever they come from. Plus, these ideas should “stick!” To help inspire customers just like yours, Taniya Nayak, a nationally known interior designer, has once again teamed up with FrogTape® brand painter’s tape from ShurTech to share her top home design trends for 2018.
Nayak became well-known as a design expert on HGTV and the Food Network. She owns a Boston-based interior design firm, Taniya Nayak Design LLC, where she adds a fresh, clean look to both commercial and residential spaces. As you’ll see, FrogTape can come in very handy when creating some of these designs. (Remember, it’s all about the project approach.)
Nayak shared six trends to help your customers transform their homes, along with tips on how to integrate them into upcoming décor projects:
Customers can turn their home into a tropical escape —or hire one of your best painters to do it for them! Adding floral or banana leaf accents can create a staycation-worthy “at-home paradise” no matter the temperature. Nayak suggests pairing pops of metallic gold with plush greens and crisp white to build a look that is sophisticated, yet fun and exotic.
Simple to The Max
“Go big or go home…in the simplest way imaginable,” she encourages. Layer multiple patterns on top of one another on smaller décor items, like pillows, for a look that combines clean and chaos.
If layering patterns is too extensive for your customers, another facet of this trend focuses on bold statements with monochromatic colors. A simple way to accomplish this is to start with a bright white wall. Paint baseboards, trim, or window mullions a dramatic contrasting color, like black, for an effortless, yet powerful effect. Here’s where FrogTape comes in. When it comes to achieving clean, sharp paint lines, one of Nayak’s vital, go-to tools is a premium painter’s tape such as FrogTape painter’s tape. Treated with patented PaintBlock® Technology, FrogTape Multi-Surface and Delicate Surface tapes are a great way to get professional-looking results and eliminate the need for touch-ups.
Nayak’s inspiration behind this trend is the subtle patterns created by nature’s textures—think wood grain, geodes, or ocean waves. One way to do this is using earthy tones like browns, beiges, and deep blues combined with vibrant neon colors to generate the effect of the northern lights around the home. Faux bois, or faux wood grain, is a paint treatment that can help weave this trend into a room.
Take a table and apply a neon paint color with a faux wood rubber tool—time to stock up on faux wood rubber tools! Then add in a roll of FrogTape so customers can tape off a cool design to bring the project to the next level. “The neon paint enhances the natural beauty of a simple wood grain,” says Nayak. “It’s all about the magic of introducing an unnatural looking element into a very neutral and natural setting.”
Back to the Future
“What’s old is now new, and better than ever before,” says Nayak. She suggests painting a vintage chair with a pop of color to create an eye-catching masterpiece that seamlessly integrates into both retro and modern home décor. Introducing vibrant colors to antiques produces a beautiful new spin on a classic look.
Made with Love
Creating customized warm and cozy spaces is “in” this year, she says, and great for customers who want to cozy up their décor with a personal touch.
Painting an accent wall in a pastel color like lavender will set a relaxed and comforting tone to the room. “From there,” she suggests, “add a soft woven blanket, a macramé wall hanging, or ivory plates on a wall to transform just any room to your room.” Small or hand-crafted personal touches like these make this a livable and lovable trend that embraces the imperfectly perfect.
New England Preppy
As a true New Englander, Nayak is all about this one. “This style embraces the timeless combination of crisp white linens and navy blues, but what really gives a room an authentic New England vibe is the addition of a camel-colored leather décor accent,” she says.
Easy ways to incorporate this trend into a home include adding monogrammed pillows to a leather accent chair or whitewashing a brick fireplace, creating a look that will never go out of style.
Earlier this month, Jerry, myself and our band’s singer Ellen were fortunate enough to play at the Old Timer’s Day Steampunk Festival in Van Buren, AR. For those of you who don’t know, Steampunk is late 1800s to early 1900s Sci-Fi where people dress up in their Victorian best, but with all sorts of fictional technology to go with it (think gears and steam power!). Since that’s the exact era of music our band plays, we were a great fit. We were pretty exhausted after playing in the hot sun of the mid-south for three hours so we headed back to the hotel after the festival closed for a quick nap.
Then, right down the road from where we were staying we noticed something…it was a paint store, no…it was THE Paint Store! Before we left we knew we had to go in for a visit, so that’s exactly what we did. After spending some time with owner Sue Moore, we quickly realized that this shop is definitely not like many others. It’s truly more of a hub for contractors and DIYers alike where they can get some great products, learn about paint, or just chew the fat—sometimes actually chew the fat, but more on that later.
Sue Moore opened The Paint Store in 1988 in downtown Van Buren (near Fort Smith) to take advantage of a business opportunity. “A local lumber yard that sold paint chose to close,” Moore said. “I started out with no experience in paint, but my family were all artists, so I had a flair for color matching and decorating.” They started small with only a few products, but over time and a move uptown, they’ve now got an amazing variety product for sale in their small shop. “We were in the same building for 25 years and moved to this location five years ago,” said Sue. “We used to have a ‘wall of fame’ at that location that friends and contractors would sign, but we couldn’t move the blocks.” Enter a use for the old menu board outside their new location! They took a picture and put it on the board for everyone to see and remember; a way to meld old with new. Some of the signatories have since passed on, said Moore, and their families often drive by to see their autograph.
Now, About Those Shelves…
Now, how do you stock when you’re the only independent in the area? It’s not something you learn overnight. Moore mentioned that they started out with Jones•Blair back in the day, and she was very sad to see them bought out. But even with limited space in a small store, every flick of the eye lands upon a different brand or product. How’d she get so much? “It started out as a necessity as we tried to diversify and get as many customers as we could,” she said.
For example, she started carrying waterproofing coatings which then expanded into other industrial coatings as well as a good selection of specialty items such as traffic paints and pool paints. If you think she’s just shooting in the dark with how she stocks, however, you’d be wrong. “Even though you see different brands, they have a specific use that they’re chosen for,” she says. “Because we’re independent, we can pretty much buy anything we want, but we have some product we often go back to. We have ZAR (from UGL), which makes really good high quality sealers and toner products for outside. Richard’s supplied us with the traditional oil base semi transparent stain that we’ve had for decades,” Moore continues, “The Wolman brand has the solid color. They’re owned by Zinsser, who has a good reputation, and we’ve had their product for 25 of our 30 years. We also have Modern Masters metallics; a lot of people like their faux.”
Sure it’s a lot, but her stocking philosophy is actually quite simple. “I’ll sell it as long as I can get my hands on it and it performs,” she tells us. “When we opened the store I felt I needed to have hands on experience with products so I could get the same thing time and time again and know it will hold up down the line and be consistent.”
This brings us to an interesting part of their business, their private labeled product. They started this project about two or three years ago and, Moore reports, it’s really taken off. “We teamed up with Richard’s Paint to private label for us. The Jones•Blair product we carried had such good coverage, and their chemical makeup was what we need here in this part of Arkansas—for instance mildew resistance, and flexibility with the wood as it expands and contracts with different temperature changes.” The house brand from Richard’s has these qualites as well.
But don’t think that Sue just slapped The Paint Store’s name on anything; she did her due diligence. “I paint it at my house so I can say to the customer that this is what I use. I can tell them from experience how it washes or fades.”
She had some deep reasons for partnering with Richard’s, and along with the private label she carries a lot of Richard’s own brand as well. “We like Richard’s product. We were looking for a small company because they tend to take care of their customers better. You can call and speak to the person you want to talk to; even a member of the Richard family. Their sales rep comes by whenever he’s through town—not just once a quarter. He lives in Jane MO, a little bitty town just north of the border.”
Steak & Eggs
In addition to its brand of paint, The Paint Store also has its own brand of Certified Grassfed Beef! Sue and her husband Tom have the first farm in Arkansas that has been certified as Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World. When asked about this curious combination of paint and beef, Sue noted that raising grass fed cattle was actually easier than more conventional methods. “We felt like we wanted a farm but we didn’t want a lot of hands on, so we focus on animal welfare. You don’t run your cows though the chutes all the time, poke them with needles, and feed them grain all the time, they only forage. They eat grass, hay, and alfalfa kind of like cows used to do centuries ago before the feedlot system.
“The calves are born and we raise them until they are ready for processing,” she continued. “We take them to an Animal Welfare approved processor, B&R processing in Winslow, AR. We have a freezer and fridge [at the store] and we sell free range chicken eggs, hamburger meat, and steaks.”
When the obvious question of how that works in a paint store comes up, she noted that just like many customers like healthier paint, they like their food the same way. “The trend is to eat healthier and know more about what you’re consuming, and we have quite a following. Some days we may sell more meat than paint!” Jerry and I had to take her word for it, because no matter how delicious it would have been then, no meat would taste good after sitting in a car for six hours on our drive back to St. Louis!
Lost in Space
Every store has its problems with tackling space limitations. At The Paint Store, Sue and assistant Vicki Hargrove come up with commonsense yet creative ways to maximize what they can fit in their space. You’re not going to see a lot of sad, empty shelves, here! “It’s no real secret,” Sue says, “I’m not going to waste an extra inch of space between shelves and it’s the same way in our outdoor storage areas—shelves. We don’t waste
Using some of the building’s former life to her advantage, Sue tells us, “We try to keep volatile products outside. This was a restaurant before we moved here and one of those outbuildings was a freezer. It’s still insulated, so it makes for excellent storage as it keeps things cool in the summer and in the winter keeps them from freezing.” She looked at a few square feet with nothing in it. “Looks like we need a shelf here, too,” she mused.
Still, sometimes you simply run out of space, regardless of how efficient you are, but Moore has it all under control. “We also have a just in time warehousing facility and we occasionally use them to warehouse volume product if we have big projects going up. It adds a bit to our expense, but I can order 5,000 gallons and have it shipped over there. Having that space available helps to stretch if we need it.” When you have mastery of organizing your space, you can worry about selling more paint and not where to put it!
Miles of Files in the Aisles
Now we get to the juicy stuff, and I’m not talking about steak! I’m talking about tricks and tips they’ve learned over the years to make the shop run as smooth as can be. Here’s a few of their trade secrets. “The way we keep up with customers colors is unique for these days,” Sue says, “I make up a little recipe card with the formulas, file it under contractor’s name, and after contractor is done with the job we file it under the homeowners name so we can pull it back out when we need to.”
Sue brings it home: “I put a sample of each color on the back so I can maintain that consistency. I had to buy some big file cabinets because I don’t throw anything away for at least 10 years, and even 15 on some projects, because you don’t need to paint for a while,” she adds. “People can come back and get the same thing and we have records. Some people say we should keep it on the computer, and I said I can’t keep a sample of your paint in the computer screen, I could write it down and keep a formula in there but you can’t always be sure. It may be the old fashioned way but I think it’s the right way.”
Another trick that should be a no-brainer for local business: get involved! “By doing the right thing and being responsible and respectful of other people we have gained a good reputation,” Sue says. “We support local people here: 4H, baseball and football teams, frisbee golf; they want their $40 ads and we try to support our customers and their kids in those sports. The Sherwin-Williams and Lowe’s in the world don’t really touch the community on a one on one basis.”
Now comes the obvious and over-asked question of anyone in a gender-dominated field. Does she have problems being a female dealer? The answer is a resounding not anymore! “It was a problem back in 1988,” she explains. “In the beginning I was learning a lot since I didn’t know anything about paint. I would ask contractors about paint products and how they covered and want them to tell me how my products worked. Now I’m a go-to person for paint knowledge.” She tells us one story: “I had issues with some sales reps from some bigger corporate companies and one in particular…so I don’t carry their paint.” It wasn’t because the paint was bad, she said frankly, but due to the lack of respect. Being an independent dealer, she could throw the rep—and his paint—out the door.
She finishes this off with one last thing, “Most of my customers come to us because their parents and grandparents got paint from us. I have kids—where I remember when they were born—that are now my customers. Alot of it is word of mouth: ‘you need to talk to Sue and Vicki at The Paint Store because they know.’” After spending this morning with them, it was pretty obvious they DO know, and as the only independent dealer in the Arkansas River Valley, they are primed for success well into the future!
If you’ve been to a lot of National Hardware Shows over the years, you know it doesn’t take long to figure out what people are thinking. If they’re not happy, they’ll let you know pretty quick. If they don’t think there’s enough traffic, enough serious buyers, a simple “how are you?” will spill the tea. And while it might be cliché to say that “this year’s show was upbeat and positive,” we didn’t hear anyone complaining. Traffic was steady, interest was high, new products and ideas were cool, and “inventions” showed a lot of ingenuity. What’s not to like?
If you notice a little different look to things NHS, it’s because a lot of time was spent to make sure 2018’s changes had impact. “This year’s show is all about new: from our logo and branding to 500+ new exhibitors,” said Rich Russo, vice president of the National Hardware Show®. “There were new experiences everywhere you turn, and new products to bring back to your stores.”
Folks who attended found out about these products even before our loyal readers! “It’s always nice to come to the show and get the chance to network and to see new products,” says Adam Busscher, owner of Picton Home Hardware Building Centre in Picton, Ontario. “We came looking for the latest and greatest products before our competitors can find them.”
There are a lot of opportunities to walk around at the show to learn and network, but just as fruitful are the chances to sit in one place and hear some insight from industry experts.
Featured speaker Andrea Ridout presented “Rooster Economics—Understanding Your Flock Can Help You Sell Your Business,” where she talked about how her company mascot, George the Rooster, helped her take a closer look at her business and build a “nest egg.”
“In my businesses, I learned that the most important thing is knowing your ‘peeps,’” she said. “As hardware store owners, those are your customers. That’s where your focus needs to be.”
It’s a familiar tune, but it’s one a lot of successful retailers keep singing: Ridout stressed the importance of evolving and growing to stay competitive. “If you don’t change, your competition will eat you up, or your customers will abandon you to start buying online,” she said. “You don’t need to be a visionary, but keep your eyes open. Sometimes the next big trend is right under your nose.”
Scott Reynolds, CEO of Member Insurance, talked about cybersecurity and what retailers could do to avoid data breaches in their business. “You may not believe you’re the target, and that’s what the cyber criminals want,” Reynolds said
“They’re looking for you. Exposure to cybercrimes is real; it’s significant, and it’s on the rise. Cybercrimes are more and more directed at small businesses that likely don’t have the necessary encryptions or firewalls in place.”
Seven Times the Power
In another presentation, the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and Independent We Stand shared the results of its latest Home Sweet Home Study, which included original research about the impact on local communities when consumers purchase home improvement products at their local stores rather than on Amazon.
“Seven times more money stays local when a consumer shops at a local hardware store instead of making the same purchase online from Amazon,” says Dan Tratensek, executive vice president and publisher with NRHA.
“From the beginning of our journey with these Home Sweet Home studies, our results have proven that when consumers make their home improvement purchases through locally owned businesses, the local communities benefit,” he said.
“Nine out of ten consumers understand the importance of independent businesses,” added Bill Brunelle, co-founder of Independent We Stand. “If they can find you, that’s key. They will seek you out and support you.”
It’s Las Vegas, so someone should win something, even though at NHS it’s more hard work than luck that sends you home with a trophy. Several awards programs throughout the week honored the best of the best in the industry, and along with products, retailers themselves often get a turn in the spotlight. NRHA recognized eight Young Retailer of the Year honorees.
These listed below are 35 years old or younger and are recognized for their achievements in growing their businesses and continuing their hardware education, as well as their innovative work as they look to the future of the industry.
• Byron Clouse, Owner, Lewiston Ace Hardware, Lewiston, Michigan.
• Diana Newton, VP, Bay Hardware, Seal Beach, California.
• Megan Zarbano, Owner, Handy Hardware & Rental, Valley City, North Dakota.
• Mike Wilson, GM & Dealer-Owner, Wilson’s Home Hardware Building Centre, Barrington Passage, Nova Scotia.
• Nate Ludwig, GM, Dazey’s Building Center, Garberville, California.
• Ronna Kilts, Manager, Mattson’s True Value Hardware, Howard City, Michigan.
• Sean Angelo, GM Budget Home Supply, Longmont, Colorado.
• Taylor Baker, Owner, Foothills Hardware & Builders Supply, Pilot Mountain, North Carolina.
Some past Young Retailer honorees took to the stage to share their insights and offer advice on managing small businesses. “Stay focused on what you do well, then do that better,” says David Dishke, president of Grand River Home Hardware in Caledonia, Ontario. “Bring customers to your store, and once they’re there, figure out what else you can sell them.”
“When you put your personal touch on things, it becomes less monotonous and more than what’s simply between the four walls of the store,” says Joe Franquinha of Crest True Value and Urban Garden Center in New York. “Find things that help you separate yourself from the path.”
Four retailers were recognized as Top Guns by the NRHA. “The Top Guns program is centered on highlighting retailers who put every ounce of themselves into their business, and it shows,” said Bob Cutter, NRHA president and CEO.
The four winners:
• Amanda Fancy, dealer-owner, Gow’s Home Hardware, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
• Jamie Gentner, CEO, Center Hardware & Supply, San Francisco.
• Megan Menzer, owner, Newton’s True Value, two locations in Kansas.
• Angela Merritt, GM, Ederer’s Do it Best, three locations in Wisconsin.
100 is Grand
One of the big prizes from the show was the $100,000 awarded to the winner if the Reimagine Retail Program. To enter, retailers were asked to describe how they would use technology to improve their businesses. Each entrant submitted a 250-word plan detailing how they would incorporate technology in their operations.
Matt Woods, CEO of Woods Hardware in Cincinnati, Ohio, was chosen as the winner of the program, now in its second year. The store plans to use the prize money to implement a program allowing it to offer same-day delivery to customers within a three-mile radius of each of its five stores.
The business has already developed a 3D walkthrough of its downtown store that links to the e-commerce website. Their plan will allow customers to virtually walk through the aisles of the store, click on an item and have it delivered the same day. To implement the system, Woods Hardware needs to make significant improvements to its POS system so it can send accurate inventory data to the website in real time. The company also wants to hire a full-time IT professional to manage the system.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” says Woods. “We’ve had this ready to rock and roll—now we just have to hire the team to upgrade our systems. With this prize, we can start taking steps to put our plan in to action.”
“This year, we asked our retailers, ‘If you had $100,000 to spend on improving your retail business’s technology, how would you invest it?’” said NHS-VP Rich Russo. “These finalists came up with some really great innovative ideas. We received a number of different submissions, and it was a difficult decision. Congratulations to all of our finalists.”
You’ve got a year to plan: so add the next National Hardware Show to your calendar now! May 7-9, 2019. We hate to make the usual pun, but not so much that we won’t—it’s a sure bet you’ll find some great products and ideas next year in Las Vegas!
Our feet were tired, but you can put on some slippers and peruse some of the show from the comfort of your own home, store, or…facilities. Following are some highlights from both new and long-time attendees. Manufactures: if you don’t see yourself here, please send us your NHS information for a future issue.
Paint it on, peel it off
Just as important as putting paint where it belongs is keeping it from where it doesn’t. Since paint is made to stay where you put it, a drip or splat in a hard to reach or hard to clean area can add significant time and agony to a project and give a contractor a substantial pay cut.
The invention section of the hardware show features a lot of new products and new product ideas, and a walk through is almost like going to an outdoor market with everyone pulling you over and hawking their wares. Like a character looking for an author, there are many great ideas looking for an investor, while other products are already on the market ready to roll onto a display.
One of the interesting products in this environment was Peel-Tek® 150, the flagship product of Peel-Tek, LLC. Here’s a one sentence description that just about tells all: it is designed to keep paint out from where you don’t want it to go. The company describes is as “a temporary protective surface coating and liquid masking that dries to form a contour-hugging, skin-tight protective coating on porous and non-porous surfaces.”
It will protect these surfaces from damage caused by over-spray, staining, surface scratches, spills and drops, which can prevent costly clean up during and upon completion of construction. Once you’re done, it peels away cleanly. It can also be used as an aide in protecting heavy traffic areas and sensitive surfaces against staining and abrasion during construction, storage, and transport.
Company CMO Michelle Mitchell continued that it can be used on a bundle of surfaces including wood (treated and non-treated, porous and non-porous), porcelain, granite, marble, quartz, ceramic, Travertine tile, cement, mortar, stucco, brick, aluminum, glass, and stone.
Let your pro painters try it, she urges, and it will save them time and money and enhance their reputation—and as a result, yours! “Peel-Tek 150 allows the professional to establish builder image and integrity while saving bottom line dollars lost due to surface damage. It increases customer satisfaction, and therefore increases customer referrals,” she said.
It’s easy to use, too: just roll or brush it on to the desired area needing surface protection and/or masking, allow to cure and peel off upon completion of the project. (Make sure customers know this is not to be used as a permanent coating.)
“In many instances, Peel-Tek 150 can be used instead of tape as it adheres to hard to mask surfaces like stone and mortar as well as difficult to mask angles, making it a better option than masking tape,” she said. “It can also be used in conjunction with masking paper/plastic as it acts as a double sided adhesive, sticking both to the paper or plastic, and to the surface, all while leaving no residue behind when removed. Peel-Tek 150 can be left on the protected surface for weeks and still peel away cleanly.”
Don’t wash your hands of this one
Another cool product, Workman’s Friend, came from Packaging Service Company, the makers of the popular Latex Agent. Back in the day, (and don’t say you didn’t), kids would immerse their hands in turpentine to get paint off, and it was really fun. Now we want something safer, but just as much fun!
Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream is designed to protect, clean, and moisturize hardworking hands. It works like an invisible glove to protect hands from exposure to grease, chemicals, grime, glue, dirt, paint, and plant oils—even poison ivy! Sure it’s great for contractors but your DIY customers will want it for a variety of tasks around the house—like pulling up that poison ivy. Before tackling the job, apply the cream to your skin to form a protective barrier. It is water resistant and does not get washed away with cleanser up to four hours.
After the job is completed, a single wipe and hands are clean. Now that’s even more fun than turpentine! And it can go beyond hands to arms, legs, and face for better protection during bigger projects. Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream also effectively hydrates and moisturizes damaged skin, so you can use it as your daily skin moisturizer, the company tells us.
“The National Hardware Show was a great opportunity for Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream launch—our sales team did an excellent job in demonstrating the product, and communicating the product benefits to the customers,” said the company’s Irene Shen. “We have received very positive feedback from domestic market as well as interest from overseas.”
FrogTape® brand painters tape, at the ShurTech booth, showed us its new marketing campaign—Frog It™. The folks at the ShurTech booth noted how the brand is intensifying its focus on contractors, and in support of that, unveiled some new products and technology. They’re aware that pro painters take pride on their ability to cut in by hand and get it right the first time. But sometimes a paint job needs tape, and if a pro painter finallllyyy admits he needs tape, he probably won’t give it a second chance if it doesn’t help him work faster and better and cleaner and sharper. For these scenarios, FrogTape brand painter’s tape says, it’s time to Frog It!
They first frogged it at the National Hardware Show, where attendees got a sneak look at the new marketing campaign and some new products. Are painters your bread and butter? Then it’s good to have their bread and butter products to go with the bagels and butter—well, cream cheese—you have for them in the morning. “With a commitment to meeting the needs of the contractor, the FrogTape brand understands and acknowledges the professional painter’s natural skill and pride in their work. Frog It! demonstrates how the brand’s tape products can support the painting professional, help them save time and money, and achieve the sharpest paint lines possible,” says the company. “If something is worth taping, it’s worth using the best tape available to make sure they deliver the sharp lines, precise resultsm and clean removal thatprofessionals and their customers expect.”
At the show, the company showed how it is responding to evolving industry needs, including keeping its products contemporary with changing paint formulas. This way, painters can be sure their tape will adhere completely and uniformly, regardless of the paint brand, color, or sheen. For example, FrogTape Multi-Surface now features a new adhesive specially formulated for hard-to-stick-to paints and surfaces, yet still delivering the same 21-day removal. FrogTape painter’s tapes are treated with patented PaintBlock® Technology, a super-absorbent polymer that reacts with the water in latex paint and instantly gels to form a micro-barrier. This barrier seals the edges of the tape, preventing paint bleed and creating clean, crisp lines.
We know that you know that we’ve described these products before, but just like on the flight to Vegas when we all listened to the safety instruction yet one more time (we did, didn’t we?), it never hurts to re-read a product description so you can have it top of mind for questioning customers.
FrogTape products that incorporate PaintBlock Technology include:
• FrogTape Multi-Surface painter’s tape is a medium-adhesion premium painter’s tape designed for an array of surfaces including cured painted walls, wood, metal, glass and now, hard-to-stick-to paints and surfaces. It can stay on surfaces for up to 21 days prior to painting (seven days in direct sunlight) and should be removed immediately after painting. The signature FrogTape canister protects the tape edge against dust and debris, as well as nicks and dents that can ruin the tape edge during storage. Available in a variety of widths to meet any project need.
• A low adhesion painter’s tape, FrogTape Delicate Surface painter’s tape can be applied to fresh paint (dried for at least 24 hours), wallpaper, faux finishing and used in decorative painting projects and more. The lower adhesion level helps prevent surface damage and can stay on surfaces for up to 60 days prior to painting. It should be removed immediately after painting.
PPG Launches New Programs
People like to see stuff at work, and PPG answered the call. Its architectural coatings team engaged attendees with demonstrations featuring newly unveiled products from Glidden® Paint and Olympic® Exterior Stain.
Glidden is now positioned to provide independent retailers a differentiated paint assortment in order to expand selling opportunities for incremental sales growth. Dealers who attended this show got the first look at the relaunched Glidden program, which features a DIY-friendly strategy with a strengthened product mix that includes ready-mix GRAB-N-GO™ assortments, specialty paint products, refreshed consumer-friendly labels, and an improved color platform utilizing PPG The Voice of Color® display.
Grab-N-Go generated a lot of excitement, and dealers also got a look at a demo of Glidden One Coat, where attendees were shown the benefits of exceptional hide offered by the products interior and exterior lines. Glidden One Coat is a super-premium paint with one coat coverage to save time and money. It offers exceptional hide and stain block properties as well as excellent scrubbability. (One Coat Coverage applies only when tinted to colors specified for Glidden One Coat paints.) L
The Olympic stain brand, also available through the independent dealer, introduced Olympic SmartGuard stain along with ProjectPro Tool, designed to help customers in product selection. There’s no day like today, so if you can get your deck done “today” then there’s no day like tomorrow either…because the deck is done! Action-packed demos showed the waterproofing protection properties of Olympic SmartGuard and the all-climate protection of Olympic Elite urethane-fortified stains versus other leading stain brands.
A first-of-its-kind product in North America, according to the company, Olympic SmartGuard allows your painters and DIYers to clean, apply, and best of all…enjoy their deck…all in one day! It is a super concentrated formula in a lightweight, easy-to-handle pouch package. Drying in as little as one hour after application (as compared to 24-48 hours for traditional products), it provides a durable, super water-resistant seal.
Unlike traditional stain products, there is no brushing required—easy spray-on application allows customers work faster. The creative packaging allows for shelf optimization and can be easily merchandised at your paint counter, on shelf, or in the stand-alone merchandising display.
Olympic’s ProjectPro tool, designed to help answer questions about color and product, was also available for tryout. “Simply answer a few quick questions about the condition of your deck, fence, furniture or other surface—as well as your desired outcome—and the Project Pro tool takes care of the rest,” they tell us. “Not only will customers have the opportunity to visualize various stain colors and transparencies, the tool will even deliver how-to tips and tricks directly to their inbox.”
PPG has more than paint in its portfolio, and it demonstrated some of its other products as well. A before and after demo illustrated the distinct difference that Homax Tough As Tile can deliver to colored and dingy sinks, tubs, and tile, while another demo showed how Homax offered the wall repair products needed to deliver an Invisible Repair™. Various substrates were applied to a wood panel to show that Liquid Nails Fuze*It All Surface construction adhesive bonds many different substrates and demonstrated instant grab properties.
Pretty as a Picture
The Shelfie, from Cashel LLC, was a big hit with the paint community, according to the manufacturer, who notes that “Take a selfie of your Shelfie,” was heard over and over at the Cashel booth, located in the Made in the USA section. A new Workspace Shelf Solution Designed to Fit on any Utility Sink, Tub, Cooler, and More The Shelfie™ is a portable, already assembled, easy to install, instant shelf and drainboard that simply attaches to any ledge with a 2″ lip. The Shelfie is made in the USA from heavy-duty, waterproof and stain resistant polypropylene. Once installed, the shelf can easily adjust to different levels for easy draining.
Complete Your Concrete
Re-Design, from Prima Marketing, Inc., demonstrated its unique collection of concrete stencils. The company was new to the show and many folks—including the staff at The Paint Dealer—were wowed by its decorative product, which showed us just how boldly imaginative you can get with stencils, plus opens up a new market for folks who want to really do right by their concrete. This booth was packed with onlookers from start to finish and it’s easy to see why. “The attendees were drawn to our booth because we offer new and unique tools for any DIY enthusiast,” said Denny Dupra-Ruffner, company branding and product director. “Our products complement other products such as paint supplies, concrete, and design ideas for living spaces. Our booth design and staging really drew in buyers to see the overall potential that our products have to offer.”
If your customers enjoy unique designs and the chance to customize their surroundings, this is definitely a product to look into, as homeowners as well as pro painters can stencil up some pretty cool stuff without a lot of hard work. “Not only do we pride ourselves in the designs of our DIY collection, but we also try to offer unique concepts that are new to the market,” said Dupra-Ruffner. “Our tools are easy to use, diverse, and can be applied to many lifestyle projects for an upscale look that anyone can do—from the beginner to advanced DIYer.”
Denny suggested that the product is a great add-on to many of the things you already sell. “Paints and paint supplies can be used with our decor stencils,” he said. “Waxes and moulds can be used to give cabinets, furniture, or any decor project a high-end look with ease. The concrete moulds can be used with any kind of concrete offered in hardware or garden stores, to give an outdoor space a bit of personality. Prima also offers videos, projects, and step by step tutorials on a variety of social media platforms to inspire creativity and education on a daily basis for customers.”
The Prima crew itself had a great time at the show, said Denny. From a vendor perspective, you want to meet and talk with different manufacturers, and many vendors are surprised as to who expresses interest. You never know where that amazing opportunity will come from. “Overall, our reception at the show was wonderful,” he said. “The event staff was helpful and professional from start to finish, making sure our experience was a great one! And we were welcomed by many other vendors that exhibited at the show as well. The networking throughout the show was impressive,” he continued. “We were able to meet so many buyers from all over the world and discuss a variety of potential opportunities based on different markets.”
Drop In to the Tarp Display
PXpro™ Paint Sundries, part of the World and Main family of brands, had many products at its booth, and was especially interested showing its new line of high-quality tarps designed for professionals and DIY homeowners. These professional-grade tarps are manufactured in a variety of popular sizes and thicknesses to meet the needs of the industry. The tarps fit seamlessly into the PXpro brand that has built its success on the promise of superior quality paired with great value.
The packaging on these is really cool—you might think “it’s a dropcloth, what more can they do?” but with this packaging, it’s very easy for painters to know what they’re getting before they open the bag. Each thickness option is clearly marked on the tarp package and the merchandising materials to avoid confusion and aid in the sale. Additionally, a sample swatch of the tarps is attached to the top of the package for easier selection.
From a consumer angle, the tarp line is designed for those who want products that are durable enough to last job after job. The tarps are rot and rust proof, have a double laminated coating and a strong, rope-reinforced hem. They are also tear resistant, UV protected, and mold and mildew resistant. The 3-millimeter and 5-millimeter versions include aluminum grommets, and the 10-millimeter versions include polycarbonate grommets.
Mark Francazio, Category Director, Paint Sundries, notes that these tarps “cover” the needs of pro painters as well. “By adding to our existing product offering, we can meet the needs of the paint professional and equip them with quality products that can handle the strain of use, day in and day out,” he said. Francazio went on to add that the design of the PXpro tarps is essential to providing professionals what they need: “Professional painters know what they want, and by listening to the needs of the market, we have included a variety of features—such as rust resistance and reinforced corners—to allow painting professionals to complete the job without worrying about the tools they are using letting them down.
With its extensive line of brushes, roller covers, paint kits, plastic sheeting and now tarps, PXpro has established itself as a go-to brand for painting contractors and DIY homeowners,” Francazio said.
“I don’t want to be in charge of cleaning the floors, yet there I am with a mop in my hand!”
I can be very difficult—at least that’s what my daughter and fiancé told me the other night. Apparently I’m a terrific guy with a heart of gold whom most people love dearly. Buuuuuut…I may have some personality flaws that make me a challenge, at least for my family. If I had a few minutes, they continued, they’d love to discuss one of these flaws with me. If there’s a silver lining in this, I did find out recently that I take direct criticism very well!
I soon realized that in our family of three, when we don’t all agree…it’s best to be on the side with two. My dog, whose name I’ve changed from Perry to Benedict Arnold, sat there quietly taking it all in. He proved that night that the title of “man’s best friend” is strictly ceremonial. I’m going to stop making him bacon on Sunday mornings, though I wonder if he’ll make the connection.
My rebuttal that night was that you have to take the bad with the good—maybe it’s that unique impatience I display at times that makes me so loving and wonderful when you actually do what I ask. Every blade cuts on the way out as well as in, and that goes for my personality as well as my life as an independent paint retailer.
For the most part, I enjoy being a paint retailer……buuuuuuut! I love the flexibility. I get to set my own hours. I love that when I work hard, it’s (generally) me (or up until that fateful conversation, my ladies at home) who gets the reward. Buuuuuut, being a paint retailer has some down sides as well. Like my family, I’m forced to take the bad with the good.
For example, I staff my stores well enough that I (almost) always have the coverage I want. It’s often close though, because I also try not to pay for a single unnecessary man-hour. That plan works perfectly…except when it doesn’t. When someone calls in sick or has the nerve to take vacation, that’s generally when I am forced to step in: particularly if it’s one of the managers.
I generally don’t schedule myself to work at the counter because it’s not an efficient use of my time. When I get stuck there, I do get frustrated and difficult! When I’m stuck at the counter, I feel trapped. When changes that stick me at the counter happen last minute, I really don’t like it! Generally I am pretty booked up with other work I do (these columns don’t write themselves) and I am sure that the disruption comes out in my attitude.
Knowing how these things get in the way for me, I try to manage them. We are too small to have a policy manual, but my guys know that if they want to take a week’s vacation I need notice (unless there’s an emergency, of course). It doesn’t mean I won’t work with someone who has a last-minute opportunity, but at least I set the table the way I want and establish some expectations. I’m generous with vacation time, but I need plenty of notice: the bad with the good!
Being an independent paint retailer means that I’m in charge of basically everything in both stores. I don’t mind making decisions on topics that are important to me: pricing, credit, personnel, and other “high altitude” issues. But I don’t want to be in charge of window displays, cleaning the floors, or other smaller things: yet there I am with a mop in my hand! But these small details are crucial for smooth operations and creating a positive shopping environment. Thankfully, taking the bad with the good doesn’t mean I have to perform all those tasks myself. That would be just taking the bad! I do, however, do a lot of them.
As you finish in your store today, or start a new day tomorrow, try to focus your efforts on the areas where you feel you are most productive, or at least that bug you the least. Tomorrow may be the day that someone walks in and buys 50 gallons at retail for cash, or it finds you digging through the trash to find a check that was accidentally tossed out: in the life of an independent paint retailer it’s never all good. Sometimes you’re the shaker and sometimes you’re the spill!
“The powerful words ‘I’m sorry’ shouldn’t be abused.”
The other day a buddy shared an experience he had with a company that sold him mulch for his yard. When the truck arrived, he asked the driver and his co-worker to put the mulch in the backyard. The driver said, “I’m sorry. Dropping the mulch off in the backyard is considered white-glove service. You needed to let us know you wanted the mulch in the backyard when you ordered it.” In this case, sorry had a double meaning. Maybe the driver was saying he was sorry to apologize, and at the same time, he was also saying, “Too bad. Pay more money if you want the mulch delivered an extra 50 feet to the back of the house.”
I had a similar “I’m sorry” experience checking out at a hotel. There was a $35 resort charge that I didn’t know about. I was there for three days, so that added up to $105. I asked the front desk clerk what I got for that $105. She said, “Free internet, access to the workout room and a newspaper.” Hmm…most hotels I stay at don’t charge for any of these amenities. And, she added, almost ashamed, “I’m sorry. They should have informed you about the resort fee when you made your reservation. Once again, the word sorry was more of a “too bad,” than an apology.
Lesson One: The words we use are important. If we use a phrase like “I’m sorry,” what comes after that needs to be part of the apology versus a “too bad” type of explanation. Even if it is “too bad,” the way you say it can include empathy and caring that makes the customer know you feel their disappointment.
Lesson Two: The resort fee wasn’t a big deal. However, at the heart of the issue was that I felt the hotel was “nickel and diming” me. I asked the front-desk clerk to do me a favor; first I told her that I wasn’t mad at her about the resort charge; she was just the bearer of the news. She immediately seemed to relax. Then I told her what I did for a living and asked if she would share how she felt about this situation. She told me that almost every day several guests complained about the fee. She felt she had to defend it, which made her feel uncomfortable.
When you know that your customers are regularly disappointed with a part of your process, figure out a way to eliminate that disappointment. In the case of the resort fee, it seems simple. It’s fine to charge it, but when the guest makes a reservation online, the fee should be made clear and be included on the confirmation receipt. If the reservation is made by phone, inform the guest, and in the process, “sell” the benefits of that fee. For example, “Make sure you take advantage of the workout room. You’ll love it.” Then, at check-in, go over the room rate and resort fee and “sell” it again. Make it a benefit, not an ugly surprise at the end of the trip. Isn’t that so much better than having to say, “I’m sorry!”
There are many ways to turn negatives into positives. There are many words we can use to show our customers we care. The powerful words “I’m sorry” shouldn’t be abused. They shouldn’t be part of a “too bad” explanation. They should convey empathy, care, and concern. If you have to utter those words more often than you should, figure out why—then do something about it!
Kansai Paint Group, a global manufacturer of paints and coatings founded in 1918 in Osaka, Japan, has announced approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Kansai Anti-Mosquito Paint. The paint, designed for interior use, contains a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide which has been shown to significantly reduce the presence of mosquitoes in painted areas, contributing to effective mosquito population control and reducing the spread of many mosquito-borne diseases, for example Zika and West Nile. Formulas for all base colors have been approved.
“Development of Kansai Anti-Mosquito Paint marks a major milestone, not only for our company but also for the worldwide effort in fighting the spread of infectious diseases,” said company president Hiroshi Ishino. “For generations, people all over the world have struggled with mosquito-borne illnesses and the effects they have on families and communities. Kansai is proud to be the first company in the world to develop a safe paint, approved by the EPA that addresses this challenge in a creative and effective way.”
The product is the only anti-mosquito paint that is approved by the EPA. It is currently approved in Uganda and Zambia and is expected to be available in the U.S. by summer of 2018. Contact with the active ingredient in it disables the nervous systems of mosquitos and prevents them from flying and biting. Use of the active ingredient in this product has not shown to be dangerous for humans, either by physical contact or oral ingestion. Further, presence of the active ingredient does not affect the paint’s aesthetic quality.
“Our testing has showed that the Kansai Anti-Mosquito Paint was able to exterminate, on contact, more than 90% of mosquitoes and is effective for at least two years,” noted Kalpana Abe, Vice President, President’s Office, Kansai Paint Group.
The “Power” of Customer Interaction
The J.D. Power 2018 Paint Satisfaction Study measured customer satisfaction in the interior and exterior paint and stain market. They rated six factors (in alphabetical order): application, durability, in-store color displays and printed materials, price, product offerings, and warranty/guarantee. In the paint retailer segment, satisfaction was measured across five factors: merchandise, price, sales and promotions, staff and service, and store facility.
One finding of the study showed that sales associate engagement with customers is key to customer satisfaction. With 77% of customers purchasing paint/stain on their first visit, the study showed that closing a sale on the first visit increased satisfaction. Getting a salesperson to spend time talking with the customer about paint/stain qualities is essential, however only one-third of purchasers spoke with a sales associate at length about the products. Satisfaction was significantly higher among purchasers who spoke with a sales associate at length rather than briefly or not at all.
Satisfaction also drives loyalty and advocacy, as 76% of customers who were “delighted” with their experience said they would repurchase the brand.
Here are the results from the study in the four categories.
• Interior Paint: Benjamin Moore ranks highest in customer satisfaction, followed by Behr and Valspar..
• Exterior Paint: Sherwin-Williams took the honors here, followed by Benjamin Moore and Pittsburgh.
• Exterior Stain: Benjamin Moore came in first, followed by Sherwin-Williams, then Behr.
• Paint Retailer Rankings: Benjamin Moore paint stores ranked highest in customer satisfaction and performed particularly well in the staff and service; merchandise; and store facility factors. Sherwin-Williams placed and Menards showed.
Well, another information-packed edition of the National Hardware Show and Lancaster Distributing show is in the books. We saw all sorts of great new products whose makers are looking to vie for space on your store shelves. While it’s true that some of the new products we saw in Vegas were redesigns of products that have been on the market before, that is not to say that they weren’t worth looking at because they definitely had some noteworthy tweaks. Now, just like every May Wrap-Up issue for TPD, we are ready to talk about what WOWed us at NHS and Lancaster in 2018…
ShurTech Technologies showed us its newest tape line, T-Rex® “Ferociously Strong” Tape, and every contractor should carry at least one roll of it in their truck or tool box. This tape WOWed us during a demonstration where the brand’s Brute Force™ Tape was used to lift about 700 lbs. Now you might not need a tape that can lift such a heavy load, but its great to know you’ve got it in a pinch.
As the company states, whether you’re sealing, repairing, or holding a utility cover in place, T-Rex Tape can accomplish all of your extreme DIY projects on your seasonal to-do list, and even those tougher tasks that happen in between. This extra-wide, ferociously strong duct tape offers better coverage when protecting, supporting, repairing, holding, or sealing materials while letting you get more done with less strips of tape, saving time and money. Whether it’s around the home or on the job site, T-Rex Tape will hold longer and stronger than regular duct tape. This makes it ideal for any project, big or small. T-Rex Tape can be found as an extremely durable and tough duct tape product, as a packaging tape, as a clear, all-weather repair tape, and as an indoor/outdoor mounting tape.
From Advanced Wood Paint LLC comes Wood Genie™, a product so revolutionary we were able to paint a very realistic wood finish and stain onto a clear piece of plexiglass, and when we were finished, no one could look at it and tell you it wasn’t real wood…WOW! The great folks we met at NHS, James and Michele Corwin, tell us that Wood Genie is a patented new product that takes all the time-consuming prep work out of achieving a stained wood finish.
Wood Genie is a liquid wood coating, and you can use it to turn virtually any hard surface into unfinished wood…ready to be stained. Wood Genie can be applied using an inexpensive paint brush or paint sprayer by professionals and DIYer’s alike, and cleanup is as easy as using soap and water.
Another product that WOWed us came from Prima Marketing, “where memories are created.” The ladies at the booth were just as nice as could be, and their products were unique to us. Prima is home to Re-Design, a new and fresh way to decorate your living space through wall transfers, moulds and decor stamps. Prima takes it to a higher level of quality! Want some beautiful decorations added to your homes woodwork, furniture, or crown moulding? Choose your products from Re-Design with Prima. Want some truly unique stepping stones for your garden? Re-Design with Prima has the paver moulds and stencils for DIYers and pros alike. Whatever memories you want to create, Prima Marketing has the moulds, stencils and designs to fit your every need!
The last product from NHS main show floor that really WOWed us was the Cooldanna® Headband from ZANheadgear®. If you ever work outdoors, especially in the heat of summer, this product is a must-have! (Surely you know a few painters who work outside.) As the company tells us, the Cooldanna offers hours of cooling relief for hot conditions once the safe non-toxic cooling crystals are activated with water. Cooldanna can be worn around the head or neck and reused multiple times, plus it has a reusable bag included for on the go use, and one size fits all. It’s not a bandana, it’s a Cooldanna, and there is no reason to be a sweaty mess when you can simply be COOL!
At the Inventor’s Section of NHS, we always find some great new products, and this year was no different. This is where we stumbled upon an old friend, Adrienne Melton, promoting Packaging Service Company’s new product, Workman’s Friend. It guards against skin irritants, and keeps grease, paint, stain, glue and plant oils from sticking to your hands, while it moisturizes, heals and protects…WOW!
This product is a superior barrier skin cream that lets you wipe off dirt and grime, and while there are similar products on the market, nothing we have found does what this product can do! Workmen’s Friend is non-greasy, non-toxic, odorless, and safe for all skin types, and it works like protective gloves without having to wear them!
Also in the Inventor’s Section was Roller Ready, a roller-cleaning product that can clean your roller cover…in seconds! Invented by a painter for painters, Roller Ready is available in four different models to clean everything from mini-roller covers up to 18” long professional roller covers. Roller Ready products will sell, and your customers will save money using them. With products for the DIYer and the pro, Roller Ready pops into your electric drill, place the paint-filled roller cover on it, put it into a bucket of water, turn the drill on and watch the paint or stain stream out of the roller cover immediately, ending with a completely clean cover in just seconds! WOW!
Pros know throwing away a roller cover they have only used once or twice is a huge waste of money. Roller Ready products solve that issue, extending the life of your contractors’ favorite roller covers. It’s fast and easy to use, eliminates messy paint cleanup, saves time and money, stores easily in a toolbox or drawer, is durable and long lasting and is environmentally friendly.
Another product to keep your eyes out for is the BlueTaper, an advanced taping and caulking tool that your customers are going to want to have! The BlueTaper’s patented design lets you make straight paint edges and perfect caulk beads like no tool before. It’s fast and accurate, giving great results and reduced headaches. It works left-handed or right-handed, even if you are taping right, left or up or down, and it cuts the tape for you at the right length every time! Plus, it works with virtually all standard width blue painters tape. If your customers need help taping or attempting to lay down a straight caulk bead as much as most folks do, this will grab their attention because it does the job and is super easy to use!
Lastly, we want to give a big shout out to Benjamin Moore’s Jeff Spillane. Jeff has been with the Montvale, NJ company for DECADES, so it is with heavy heart we bid a fond farewell to Jeff as he is retiring from Ben Moore, but he’s not leaving the industry—Jeff is starting J.T. Spillane Consulting, and there is a pretty good chance you will be hearing from him in our pages in the future. Jeff has been a fierce proponent of our magazines and a great friend and confidant. Want to talk to a straight shooter? Talk to Jeff Spillane. Want to know the buzz in the industry? Talk to Jeff. Want to know more about paint than you ever thought possible? Jeff is the man! Mugler Publications, Inc. wishes Jeff Spillane the best of everything in his future endeavor!
Every year that we attend the National Hardware Show and the Lancaster Distributor Show, we arrive giddy at the prospect of all the new products and companies awaiting the throngs of people walking the Show. It reminds me a bit of my youth when my sisters and I would awaken early on Christmas morning and rush down stairs to see what “Santa” had left for us under the tree. As soon as we started playing around with the few presents that were not wrapped up—the fire engine, pogo stick or Red Ryder BB Gun—Mom & Dad would stagger down the steps bleary-eyed looking like they had not slept a wink (why could that be?), and then we could start tearing the wrappings off of everything else.
The scenario at NHS and Lancaster is not all that unfamiliar. Exhibitor booths are all “Spic & Span,” set up neatly and efficiently with their products displayed. The people working the booths, who probably have had many long days and nights preparing for these Vegas days, are just as bleary-eyed as Mom & Dad used to be because they have worked tirelessly to pull off their biggest trade show of the year and to ensure they are putting their and their company’s best foot forward and to show off their new or re-branded products and designs. Every exhibitor hopes their products will be the darling of the Show, and if they have something this year at NHS and Lancaster that can help you independents stand tall above your big box competitors, they just might become the darlings they hope to be!
Just about every year, our staff comes home with information on products we believe can be game changers for independents. We meet with many inven-tors at the Show who are in the beginning stages of launching their products. Unfortunately, while many inventors spend their life savings designing, building, and packaging these new, promising tools of the trade, but they forget to build in a marketing budget. Without that, their products are destined to join the ranks of so many great ideas that never make it into the marketplace. (This even happened to the early paint roller!) Note to Inventors: If you are working on bringing a new product to fruition, build and stash away a MARKETING BUDGET, because what good is the greatest painting tool on the planet if nobody ever hears about it?
For retailers in this great paint & sundries business, these shows offer the chance to set your stores apart from your competitors. You have opportunities to buy in bulk, obtain greatly reduced pricing, to get in on “spiffs,” and sit in on outstanding programs by guest speakers detailing the state of our industry, what’s to come, and how we can all get there profitably.
Not attending this year? No worries! Our May issue will focus on the WOW factor items and companies we saw at the shows. Sorry—we won’t be talking about the G.I. Joe with the Kung-Fu Grip or the newest Betsy Wetsy dolls, but if we can help you find a new product to replace some haggard dogs on your shelves that are just gathering dust instead of ringing up sales, then you will be all the better for it! The future is so bright for this industry, and it’s Las Vegas, Baby, so definitely bring your shades…and very comfortable shoes!
Road shows in our industry are becoming more common and The Paint Dealer has been fortunate enough to visit several. The “Great American River Road Trip” along the Mississippi River, organized by Independent We Stand, certainly hit some party towns. Starting from up north, this organization dedicated to supporting and promoting independent businesses visited Minneapolis, MN; Davenport, IA; Cape Girardeau, MO; Memphis, TN; and made its final stops in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA. Along with its goal of producing video vignettes to bring attention to the need to support independent businesses, the organization was also promoting its America’s Main Streets contest, where the winning city gets $25,000 to upgrade and update its downtown. Stihl is a major sponsor of the organization, and PPG has also been a consistent backer.
We caught up with the crew in Cape Girardeau, a river town of 40,000 about 110 miles south of Mugler Publications HQ in St. Louis. Telling their story were Fred and Tammy Elias, owners of Elias Family Hardware, opened by his grandfather in 1965 in Cairo, IL.
“The goal of this trip is for Independent We Stand to promote the unique experiences and the economic impact of America’s Main Streets on local communities,” said Bill Brunelle, co-founder of IWS. “Our theme this year is ‘Local Memories. Lasting Impact.’ which we see exhibited year after year as we travel the country visiting unique Main Streets. It’s driven by consumers who support them through the Buy Local movement.”
There was a bit of “camera shy” going on at first, but Fred and Tammy warmed up quickly and spoke on their commitment to their customers and their community involvement. Married almost 40 years, they recalled how Fred met Tammy when she applied for a job at Elias—and how it shows you can find anything at your local hardware store…even your wife!
They also spoke of the challenges and rewards of running an independent business; that even after almost two decades in Cape Girardeau they still need to work hard to get their name out over the bigger budget of the bigger boxes, and also how they enjoy watching some of their younger customers grow up and bring in families of their own. They also spoke on the importance of to giving back to their community through charitable contributions and supporting local organizations.
Get Out the Vote
Past America’s Main Streets contest winners have been Lyndon, WA and Deland, FL. It’s a quick 3,150-mile drive from one city to the next, about as far apart in the continental US as you can get. Through April 22, consumers and small business owners were invited to go online to MainStreetContest.com to nominate and vote for their favorite Main Streets. A second round of voting for the 25 semifinalists runs through May 27.The announcement of the winner comes on June 4 followed by a “Main Streets Make Us Better” event on the Fourth of July to unveil the use of the $25,000 grand prize.
Alo ng with Elias, paint and hardware stores visited included Hirschfield’s in Minneapolis, Germantown Hardware & Paint in Memphis, Holmes Building Materials in Baton Rouge, and Mike’s Hardware & Supply in New Orleans. The tour organizers enjoyed their trip south into increasingly warmer weather.
Environmentally safe and friendly products aren’t exactly new, better yet they’re getting even safer and friendlier. When it comes to paint stripping, well…you could tell customers you have quite the product on your hands. “When demoing our product, we regularly place a dollop of the stripper on the back of our hands to show how safe it is,” said Scott Sarver, marketing coordinator at Franmar, makers of BLUE BEAR paint strippers and graffiti removers. “Most of the time people are astonished and comment, ‘I’d never do that with a paint stripper.’”
Sarver notes that lately customers are concerned with not only the impact a product will have on them, but on the environment as well, whether that impact comes from production of the product, safety considerations when using it, or long-term effects with regard to disposal and degradability. Sarver says a good selling point is to show customers that Blue Bear Paint & Urethane Stripper can ease their conscience and do the job effectively. “The product will remove nearly any coating: latex, enamels, polyurethanes, acrylics, most epoxies, and others,” he said. “This also benefits you as a retailer, because you can maximize shelf space by replacing multiple SKUs with a single product.”
These types of products have a reputation for costing more, but as with many higher priced products, patrons can save money in the long run, in this case by using less of it. “Certainly there are products that can be purchased at a lower cost per unit (quart, gallon, etc.), but customers will have to purchase three to four times as much to match the amount of stripping ‘potential’ in Blue Bear Paint & Urethane Stripper. Blue Bear has a long working time and will continue to soften coatings until the stripper is removed from the piece,” said Sarver. Often if the original stripper didn’t remove all the coating, an application of Blue Bear can finish the job.
How long it takes depends on what you’re taking off, he said. “It will remove some coatings within 5-10 minutes of application, but thicker, multi-layer coatings may need overnight. We recommend a small test area to determine the length of time needed. No matter how long it needs to work, it isn’t posing any health issues to the user or the environment and it doesn’t have any strong odors associated with it,” he concluded.