House-Hasson Hardware, the industry’s largest independent regional hardware distributor, will be conducting a Virtual Summer Dealer Market in place of its normal in-person summer gathering of vendors, customers and company staff.
To safeguard market attendees during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virtual Summer Dealer Market will see dealers and vendors conduct their summer 2020 product buying and sales specials online and speak to each other and House-Hasson staff via video chats on June 25 and 26, said President Don Hasson.
House-Hasson has been shipping record amounts of products to its 2,500 independent hardware store and lumberyard dealers during the pandemic, and the virtual market will enable dealers to remain at home to prepare online for the fall selling season.
“Our focus is dealer profitability, and their activity is off the charts,” Hasson said. “We are up 20 percent year-over-year. Hardware stores and lumberyards are essential businesses, with things people need, and they’ve generally been busier in the last several months than at any time in their history.
“We’ve been working our hardware and lumberyard-service fingers to the bone. We’ve noted that some of our competitors have even stopped shipping to their smaller customers,” Hasson added.
House-Hasson holds three dealer markets annually. The summer market is typically held in Sevierville, Tenn., just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This year, dealers
will log onto the House-Hasson website and place their orders from participating vendors.
“We’re bulging with sign-ups,” Hasson said. “More than 1,600 dealers and hundreds of vendors have registered. This is higher than the number of dealers who make the trip to a market, so the likelihood is that the outcome will be substantial in terms of increased ordering and vendor activity. That puts a strain on response, given the already increased sales, but it’s a good problem.”
One of House-Hasson’s biggest customers says his company anticipates good results from the virtual market.
“We expect to find good deals like we do at all House-Hasson markets,” said T.K. Sloan, whose family operates four stores in Vonore, Etowah, Loudon, and Madisonville, Tenn. Combined, the Sloan’s stores total some 60,000 square feet.
“Though we won’t be able to participate shoulder-to-shoulder as we have in the past, we feel we’ll be in even better contact with vendors,” Sloan said. “On a preliminary basis we’ve seen some good deals, and we’ll be looking, as we always do, to find deals that’ll give us good margins.”
The virtual market will incorporate every element of dealer market offerings, said Ron Yatteau, House-Hasson manager of dealer computer services, who developed the event’s electronic capabilities.
“Dealers will benefit from bonus buys, drop ships, pallet buys, coupon buys—everything we have at a regular market,” Yatteau said. “They’ll be able to click on ‘vendor booths’ and see a vendor’s booth and the vendor’s specials. Clicking on ‘coupon book’ will show all vendors’ coupon offerings.
“There’s a ‘chat with vendor’ feature, which will open up a meeting session with a vendor—and there are multiple other options and components that dealers and vendors will be using to do business in this market approach. Go to Meeting said that in putting this together, we are one of their largest customers, operating over 400 virtual meetings simultaneously.”
Hasson said that all House-Hasson staff members working on the market will be required to be in front of a computer and accessible to dealers and vendors.
“A dealer will be able to communicate with their sales representative, have a go-to-meeting talk, at which they can answer dealers’ questions and give them advice.”
Just as at an in-person market, vendors and dealers can only speak with one person at a
time; therefore, the virtual market will include the ability for participants to leave messages with vendors, dealers or House-Hasson staff members they want to reach.
Hasson said the company is looking ahead to future markets and how the virtual component might be incorporated into those events.
“The pandemic has forced a different way to look at a great many things,” he said, “and this is just one—and a big one—on that list.”
House-Hasson Hardware serves independent hardware store and lumberyard dealers in 23 states and the Caribbean Basin. For information on the company and the Virtual Summer Dealer Market, go to the company’s website, www.househasson.com.