Posted by: Tamela Adamson-McMullen
Paint and decorating retailers had to endure the effects of a tough recession in 2009. What are their expectations for 2010? Paint & Decorating Retailer magazine spoke to several retailers, who said they are staying the course by focusing on customer service, updating products and equipments and crossing their fingers that all of it pays off next year.
Here are some of their strategies, as first reported in the November 2009 issue of the magazine.
Sell Products That Others Do Not
Bergen Park Paint & Decorating in Evergreen, Colo., specializes in top-of-the-line products, such as high-end finishes and unique decorative hardware. Sales of these products have helped the store soften the blows of a soft economy, says Michael Farkash, who co-owns the store with his wife, Robin.
Hoping to ward off any future blows, the Farkashes also have ventured into selling lacquers and related products. The venture is proving lucrative, since many of the store’s contractors do refinishing, and no other retailer in town offers these products. “I’m watching every nickel, but if you don’t put something back into the business, you won’t get anything out of it,” Farkash said.
“A-B-U”: Always Be Upgrading
Buss Paint & Wallpaper in Emmaus, Pa., sells in excess of $2 million a year. Owner Jim Capehart is constantly looking for ways to stay competitive, including keeping hardware and software up to date. “We just bought two more (paint) shakers and have updated our POS software,” Capehart reported. “We’re always making sure we’re upgrading…”
The store has taken a lesson from nearby Bethlehem Steel, which at one point was the second largest U.S. steel producer. Bethlehem Steel lost ground in the 1970s and 1980s by resisting new steel-making techniques. The company declared bankruptcy in 2001 and was dissolved in 2003.
“Bethlehem Steel made a lot of money but didn’t do a good job of keeping up with the modernization of its facilities. It fell way behind and couldn’t stay competitive,” said Capehart.
Capehart added that, going into 2010, retailers need to heed the Bethlehem Steel story and invest in their businesses. “ We have to stay technologically on top of it,” he said.
Focus on Building Outside Accounts
While sales were off this past year at Hoover Paint, a four-store operation in the middle of Tennessee, owner Tim Bowling is looking to build sales with professional accounts. “We’ve actually added another outside salesman,” Bowling reported.
The position was created primarily to target commercial and industrial accounts. “So far, we’re very pleased with the direction we’re headed,” Bowling added.
To further stem the tide, Hoover Paint also is scrutinizing inventory. “We’ve become more conservative with our inventory and are managing our supplies better,” Bowling said.
The decline that Hoover Paint experienced this year follows some of the best years the region has ever had. “We’re coming off probably the most growth in 30 years,” said Bowling, adding that he hopes for sales to improve in 2010. “I’m conservatively optimistic.”