Knoxville, Tenn.-based distributor House-Hasson Hardware says it is seeing almost twice the level of store sets -- new or expanded stores -- in 2012, compared with the 2011 rate.
“We’ve seen 2012 emerge as one of our best years in terms of helping people become hardware store owners and dealers,” said Don Hasson, president of House-Hasson.
In 2011, House-Hasson performed 15 of what are called “store sets.” In 2012, that number will grow to more than 30. The company expects 2013 to be even more active, according to Dave Helfenberger, House-Hasson’s VP marketing. The square footage of new or larger stores is increasing substantially as well, according to the company.
Surprisingly, one reason is the weak economy.
“Some of the problems in the economy make it easier to open or expand a hardware or lumber business,” Helfenberger said. “Many commercial buildings have been sitting empty for a long time. It’s a buyer’s market. Properties are selling or renting at reasonable or historically low prices.
“Store owners are negotiating very good rates per square foot, from $10 to $15 down to $3 to $5. What I recommend is that they ask for six months free and six months half-price. It’s remarkable how often they get it. Most store sets have traditionally been between 3,000 sq. ft. and 5,000 sq. ft.; this year they’re more than double that because of the low prices. We’re doing two that are more than 25,000 sq. ft., and one is 137,000 sq. ft.”
House-Hasson is a 105-year-old, family owned company that serves some 2,000 dealers in 17 states and the Caribbean. The distributor’s sales are about $200 million annually.