National Hardware Show Sizzles with Ideas

May 10, 2016

Candied bacon and cold beer were just some of the offerings that whet the appetites of attendees at the Reed Exhibitions’ National Hardware Show that took place May 5-7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. A global gathering of products for DIY home improvement, the event spanned about 600,000 net sq. ft., similar to last year, and featured 2,800 exhibitors, including 700 first-timers. It’s expected to attract about 30,000 attendees.

“All our buying categories, from garden retailers to wholesales, are up,” said Rich Russo, industry vice president for the National Hardware Show. “The sentiment from exhibitors has also been extremely positive.”

After briefly moving to the Central and South Halls last year, the show went back to its original floorplan covering the Central and North Halls that made it more compact and easy to navigate. The strongest growth was seen in the Tailgate and Barbecue area that took over the parking lot in front of the convention center and this year also included outdoor products. Attendance there also was strong, since ‘no to sizzling burgers and pork chops’ said no one ever.

Here’re a few ingredients of the show’s secret rub this year:

Spotlight on new products. Since scouting what’s new is the No. 1 reason for attending the show, its organizers worked extra hard on highlighting some 1,000 new products in several curated areas, such as New Product World, Featured Product Gallery, New Product Launch and several award areas. Prominently positioned in major traffic areas, they made it easy to make great finds.

Built-in matchmaking. The registration system automatically matched attendees with products and exhibitors that were likely to get their interest based on their profiles. Russo said: “It’s a value-added offering to increase the touch points. It’s a big initiative not just for National Hardware Show but for Reed Exhibitions as a whole.”

Exhibitor opportunities. Exhibitors could get their products in front of key industry decision makers through Product Review and Vetting Program, Pitch the Experts Panel and The Grommet Pitching Panel, just to name a few. “The program gives our buyers an opportunity to think outside the box explore potential new niches and update merchandise selections, which is important for the success of the independent retailers we serve,” said Dave Christmas, president and CEO of Distribution America, about the Product Review and Vetting Program.

Free coffee in the morning, happy hours at night. Parties of all sorts are a given when burgers are sizzling. But free coffee and refreshments in the morning, as well as free breakfast in the shuttle bus drop-off areas, were new this year and much appreciated by attendees as they tuned back to work mode.

A product that caught the show management’s attention? “A new handle that slides onto any tool and replaces the worn-out one in two seconds,” Russo said. “An inventor did a presentation about it to our key retailer from Lowe’s. He came back with another retailer and the three of them started talking business.”

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