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Energy-efficient lighting products are beginning to catch on with consumers, and Congress has given the trend a big boost in recent years. In 1992, it passed the National Energy Policy Act, which required lighting manufacturers to replace outdated lamps with brighter, more energy-efficient models.

Three years later, Congress created the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which requires power utilities to sell their power on an open market. These steps have encouraged businesses and consumers to think more about the energy they consume, and manufacturers are developing new products to meet the growing demand for energy efficiency.

This trend prompted the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, using money from manufacturers, to begin a national campaign to inform consumers about the benefits of energy efficiency.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined the fray in 1997 by creating its Energy Star[R] label, which manufacturers may voluntarily display on energy-efficient lighting fixtures if they meet program guidelines. Fixtures carrying this label can trim the cost of lighting high-use areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens, by 50 to 60 percent. And bulbs and lamps for these fixtures last three times longer than incandescent bulbs.


When it comes to electrical projects, common sense does not always prevail. That’s why it’s important for retailers to remind consumers of the dangers posed by household electrical systems. Don’t forget to tell them to shut off electrical power at the fuse or circuit breaker box before beginning any wiring project. Make sure they consult local building codes before embarking on an electrical project.



Interior lighting must satisfy two requirements: function and design. A customer replacing an existing fixture will be concerned mainly with the design; whereas a person remodeling or adding a room may be concerned with both function and design. Task lighting gives localized light for specific activities such as reading, writing, sewing and food preparation. The light should cover the entire task area and be located so shadows are reduced to a minimum.

General lighting provides comfortable background brightness in a room. Light reflected from walls and ceilings or from large sources overhead reduces lighting contrasts and contributes to the comfort of the environment.

Accent or specialty lighting adds individuality and interest to a room. This kind of lighting is primarily for decorative effects and should be used in conjunction with task and general lighting.

Recessed and surface-mounted fixtures are designed for certain maximum wattages. Increased amounts of light are achieved through the use of additional fixtures. This should be strictly observed because of the heat produced. Maximum wattage limitations are indicated on all fixtures and should be followed.

The following guidelines suggest lighting standards for various rooms.

Living Areas

Permanent lighting fixtures are not a major consideration here because so many homes depend on table or floor lamps. Wall lighting (fluorescent tubes shielded by a cornice or valance) and recessed down lights are frequently used permanent fixtures, Track lighting is also applicable.

A room larger than 225 sq. ft. will require separately controlled wall lights along two walls or multiple ceiling fixtures rather than a single light source.


Bedrooms under 150 sq. ft. use a total of 120-200 watts in a ceiling fixture, 4[feet] to 9[feet] of wall lighting or one 150-watt recessed fixture. Over 150 sq. ft. use 120 to 200 watts in a ceiling fixture, 12[feet] to 16[feet] of wall lighting, or five to eight 20- to 75-watt reflector bulbs.

For closets, use a 40- to 60-watt fixture and 60 to 100 watts in walk-in closets. These should be ceiling mounted at least 18[inches] from clothing or stored items, or use a 20-watt fluorescent above the door header.


Overall lighting should consist of at least one recessed 75-watt unit for each curtained tub or shower area. If the lavatory counter is wider than 3[feet], overhead fluorescent tubes should be installed along the entire length of the counter in a soffit extending at least 18[inches] from the wall. Smaller lavatory areas need 20-watt fluorescent tubes mounted on either side of the mirror and centered 60[inches] from the floor.

A ceiling fixture over the lavatory mirror can provide extra light for the mirror.


Every 50 sq. ft. of floor space needs about 150 watts of incandescent or 50 watts of fluorescent light from a ceding fixture. Additional fixtures should be installed over sinks, work areas,: etc. A 20-watt fluorescent tube, mounted under cabinets above the counter top is considered adequate for every 3[feet] of counter space to be lighted. Sink and range areas can be lighted with a wall bracket 14[inches] to 22[inches] above the surface using a 30-watt fluorescent tube.

Dining Areas

A single ceding fixture. or hanging lamp with at least 150 watts of incandescent lighting will usually suffice for an average size dining area. Flexibility can be added with a dimmer switch to control light levels. Chandeliers with open sockets should contain decorative bulbs.

Recreation Areas

Relatively even lighting throughout the room can be accomplished with one recessed incandescent box, with a 100-watt bulb for every 40 sq. ft. Number of fixtures can be reduced by using fluorescent tubes, which produce as much as four times more light than incandescents.


Recessed or surface-mounted downlights installed over a bar or service counter make glasses sparkle. Use small 25- to 50-watt reflector bulbs 16[inches] to 24[inches] apart for a glamorous effect.


Use ceiling-mounted fixtures with 75 to 100 watts for every 10[feet] of hall or one recessed fixture with 75 to 100 watts for every 8[feet]. Locate fixtures near closet or powder rooms. For halls that need light all day, recommend fluorescent fixtures, which save energy and reduce bulb replacement.

Laundry Areas

Center a diffusing fixture with 50 to 80 watts of fluorescent or 120 to 150 watts of incandescent light over appliances.

Home Depot to test convenience format stores next year: industry leader developing plans to open 4 hardware stores in northeast


The Home Depot announced it is developing plans to test a convenience hardware store format.

This format, as yet unnamed, will be designed to serve the small-project do-it-yourself homeowner and other customers who prefer a convenient location and smaller store environment for purchasing home improvement and related products.

“The U.S. home improvement convenience market generated sales totaling approximately $50 billion in 1997, but the vast majority of those sales took place outside of larger home center stores such as Home Depot,” stated Arthur Blank, president and ceo. “This test will help us determine the best products, services and methods of gaining home improvement sales we would not be able to get inside our Home Depot stores.”

The test is being developed and will be run by Bob Wittman, senior vice president of business development and former coo of Orchard Supply Hardware Stores. It is expected that the first store will open in the Northeast during the first quarter of fiscal 1999, followed by three more stores in that region later in the year.

The 35,000-square-foot stores are expected to offer only about 25 percent of the SKUs of a typical Home Depot and not stock lumber and building materials.

Blank noted that the convenience store test is one of a number of growth initiatives being developed to increase Home Depot’s presence in the $365 billion housing and building-related products market. The initiatives are also designed to foster longer-term sales and earnings growth and enhance stockholder returns over an extended period of time.

In April, Home Depot opened a store targeted at professional customers. While the company says there are no plans to roll out that concept, analysts are watching the experiment closely. (For complete coverage of this new format, see page 70.)

Home Depot currently operates 657 stores in the United States and Canada, with plans to operate more than 1,300 stores by the end of fiscal 2001. The company also offers facilities maintenance and repair products, and wallpaper and custom window treatments via direct mail through subsidiaries Maintenance Warehouse and National Blind and Wallpaper Factory.

In other news, Home Depot recently reached a definitive agreement to purchase the remaining 25 percent partnership interest held in Home Depot Canada by Malian Cos. Ltd. for $375 million (Canadian).

In early 1994, Home Depot purchased a 75 percent interest in the seven-store Aikenhead’s Home Improvement Warehouse chain that was owned by Malian. Today there are 37 Home Depot Canada stores in operation throughout Canada.

While the original partnership agreement called for Home Depot to have the option to purchase the remaining 25 percent interest after the sixth anniversary of the deal, both companies agreed to complete the transaction at this time.

Home Depot also has appointed Dennis Carey executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Reporting directly to Blank, Carey’s direct responsibilities will include finance, information services and construction-store planning.

With the recent appointment, Marshall Day, previously Home Depot’s chief financial officer, becomes the senior vice president-finance and accounting, but will continue to be responsible for all control functions, budget and financial planning, merchandise accounting and controller duties.

“Dennis’ broad base of business experience from his careers with General Electric and most recently AT&T will serve (us) well as we pursue our growth potential throughout North America and the rest of the world,” said Blank. Most recently, Carey was vice president and general manager for corporate productivity and mergers/acquisitions at AT&T.

Consumers shopping for the right look


Paint is one of the top-selling departments at most hardware/home improvement stores

But that doesn’t mean retailers can take the sales for granted. Becoming a destination store for paint and decor products involves presenting a visual look that entices customers, backed up by employees who know how to sell the customers everything they need for the project.

A strong paint department has enabled Grassy Creek Hardware in Spruce Pine, N.C., to attract male and female customers, both professionals and do-it-yourselfers, according to co-owner Dean Pittman. Female customers are especially attracted to hands-on displays such as the standalone merchandiser they have featuring paint color samples. “Women really like to take those home and test them out before they decide what color they want,” he says.

Carrying a broad selection of quality products is important when it comes to selling paint and decor products, Pittman says, but service is still the main ingredient for success. “Quality service–that’s our strongest niche,” he says. “You have to instill people with confidence that their project will turn out right.”

Having knowledgeable female employees goes a long way toward connecting with female paint shoppers, according to Bruce Reid, who owns Portland Builders Supply in Portland, Tenn. “You need friendly, well-trained female counter people for female shoppers to feel comfortable,” he says. “When women come into shop–say for a paint color–they want to be able to ask for another woman’s opinion.”

With about two-thirds of the customers using house charge accounts at Cox Hardware & Lumber in Houston, Owner Virgil Cox knows he has to meet the needs of a customer base that is skewed toward commercial/industrial business. “My competition is not the big boxes as much as it’s the industrial supply houses,” he says. “The C/I customer is actually easier to sell as long as your counter people are knowledgeable, because these customers know what they want.”

Cox does a brisk business in industrial coatings and solvents, with an entire wall devoted to in-stock inventory. “When a C/I customer needs 36 gallons of paint, 12 gallons won’t do–you lose the job. We have to be vigilant about carrying a large inventory of these products,” he says.

Cox Hardware carries products such as heat-resistant paint, traffic and cement marking paint, industrial paint in OSHA-approved colors, industrial primers, abrasive sheets, discs and belts, in addition to the typical paint and paint sundry items. With an online store featuring 35,000 SKUs and a massive print catalog to cater to commercial and professional customers, Cox has all the bases covered. He has even shipped as far away as South America and Uzbeckistan.

Signage is bilingual throughout the store

Since Cox Hardware is located in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood, and many of the store’s employees are bilingual as well. “That’s just a basic way to ensure our Hispanic customers feel comfortable when they’re interacting with us,” Cox says.

Linda Day, a 56-year-old single homeowner in an urban market, had an independent retailer mix her a single gallon of paint, but she left it there for three weeks. When she showed up to get it, several employees searched the paint area and found it for her, making her very pleased and apologetic. “I always try to go to the neighborhood, family-owned businesses and not the chains. I’m working on a painting project, and I come here because of the service. Quality is most important when deciding to make a purchase,” she says.

Cabinets and vanities: finding the peaks in a level market


Finding the Peaks in a Level Market

Nancy Davis spared little expense when she remodeled her kitchen last year.

The Indiana homeowner treated herself to euro-style laminate/almond cabinets with oak trim, a work station with an oak back and teal countertops.

Davis is like many consumers, according to Gerald Johnson, president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), Hackettstown, N.J.

“When they replace cabinets and vanities, they want better-quality, high-end products,” he says.

The 1991 Trends Survey, just released by the NKBA, reveals that between one-fourth and one-half of money spend on kitchen and bath projects is spent on cabinets. The trend toward luxury kitchens and baths has made a big impact on retailers’ margins in cabinets and vanities.

Dave Fultz, buyer for Ace Hardware Corp., Oak Brook, Ill., says Ace dealers are selling opening price point vanities. “We’re selling more combo vanities with tops,” he says. But Fultz cautions that marketing upscale cabinets and vanities isn’t for everyone. “We are seeing a move toward upscale, but it has yet to really hit middle America.”

He suggests retailers take a close look at their market before investing in high-end lines. “While whitewash look and champagne finish look good in the showroom, these products don’t always move well.”

“Don’t get into that niche unless you plan to display a lot of products. You can’t just display two SKUs and sell a lot. It takes time to cultivate that market.”

NKBA’s Johnson, also a certified kitchen and bath designer, echoes Fultz. “We sell what we show,” says Johnson. “Of course, it is much better to display the products that you think will sell.” Retailers and buyers report that a full investment in merchandising and a close eye on what customers want is needed to establish a strong stance in selling cabinets and vanities.

Merritt’s Hardware in La Puente, Calif., makes that investment. The store displays vanities of all different styles, colors and price points, and makes a 25-percent average margin on the products.

Roger Scott, manager of Delta Do-it center in Kingsford, Mich., displays 1,200 square feet of cabinets and vanities in six kitchens and 12 full accessorized bathrooms.

For Scott, oak is still the strongest seller, while some customers opt for hickory. He has seen some European influence and says more customers are asking for almond trimmed in oak.

In November, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, Falls Church, Va., projected a leveling off of cabinet demand for 1991, with a slight decrease in demand for new construction being offset by a modest increase in demand for cabinets used in repair and remodeling.

Aggressive marketing and merchandising is key to getting your share of the remodeling dollar. Johnson suggests that retailers do some sleuthing to determine what will sell in their market. “Go to your competitors’ stores and see what is selling. Look at the NKBA survey (see results in chart), ask builders remodelers and contractors what their customers are asking for.”

Johnson also suggests interviewing customers extensively about their needs.

“Ask them exactly what they plan to use the space for,” Johnson says. “If it is to be a storage and grooming area, you might want to design with a vanity with deep drawers for bottles to stand up in, as well as shallow drawers for cosmetics.” Some consumers want electrical outlets designed around cabinets for hair dryers.

Builders hardware: upscale products increase sales


Builders Hardware

Upscale Products Increase Sales

Builders hardware in d-i-y stores is like bread-and-butter in a grocery store – customers need it, but they also want products with good taste.

Consumers spent $8.49 billion on hardware products in 1989 have helped create those sales.

Upscale storm doors and home security have locked in new opportunities for decorative, high-end entry hardware. Remodeling has maintained the market for kitchen and bath cabinet hardware. Locksets, hasps, hinges, door knobs and drawer pulls are standard hardware, but specialty imports and designer items are creating fashionable margins.


Retailers located in historic and affluent neighborhoods are finding specialty niches for builders hardware.

Traditionally, upscale, solid brass hardware has been used primarily for older home restoration projects, but is now popular for new homes as well, says Chuck Frederick, associate buyer for builders hardware, Hardware Wholesalers Inc., (HWI) Ft. Wayne, Ind.

An increasing number of retailers are finding a solid niche with brass entry door locksets, interior door handles, kick plates and cabinet hardware.

Buena Park Lumber & Hardware, Buena Park, Calif., launched a month-long grand opening of its new “Brass Works” showroom on March 1.

Opening the specialty showroom is a “natural extension” that fits the store’s image, says John Nelson, president. The upscale hardware matches the store’s upper-end cabinets, doors and windows, Nelson adds.

“If someone is interested in a $1,200 entry door, it makes sense to have a beautiful lockset that is $300 to $400, instead of $75,” Nelson explains. “With ball bearing hinges and other items, consumers can have something that complements the total package.”

Installing some of these more sophisticated products, such as mortise locks, requires more expertise than the average d-i-yer has. If you have considered introducing such products, you should be prepared to refer customers to a contractor, or offer an installed sales package.

Before beginning a specialty brass department, retailers also “have to have built up an existing clientele that won’t be adverse to special ordering,” Nelson says.

Nelson estimates his store carries more than 1,000 SKUs on the floor, but 50 percent of his sales are special ordered.

If retailers are selling low-end doors and cabinets, they probably shouldn’t sell upscale brass hardware. However, carrying a few specialty brass products for customers wanting to upgrade existing doors and cabinets without replacing the entire units may be an option to consider.

When merchandising these products, display boards are a must, as opposed to using pegboard, says Frederick.

One trend emerging for brass is that if homeowners use it for entryways and door knobs, they will carry brass trim throughout their home, particularly on cabinet knobs and pulls. The same is true for crystal and porcelain door knobs, which are also trendy right now, Frederick says.


Carded, blister- and skin-packed products have been the trend in the last several years. These colorful packages with detailed information work well for both dump bins and merchandisers. For consumer sales, quality packaging represents a quality product.
However, the environmental movement has some retailers opting for more bulk-packaged items to conserve plastic and cardboard paper.

HWI occasionally receives phone calls and letters from dealers, requesting smaller packaging, says Frederick. For example, HWI recently received a note from a dealer located in a community that regulated how much rubbish residents were allowed to throw out each week. The dealer felt he could do his part by asking for the size of packaging to be reduced on the products he sold in his store.

Price also plays a role in packaging. Retailers in a slow economic area, or with a substantial contractor base, may do better to merchandise screws, nails and bolts in bulk. “They (customers) don’t want to have to buy the package,” says Bill Small, owner, Small’s PRO Hardware, Cincinnati.


But whether retailers merchandise their hardware in bulk or upscale packaging, promotions for these staple product is just as important as big-ticket specialty products. Warehouse home centers often portray low prices on these items, and retailers can change consumers’ perceptions by advertising a broad selection of economical products.

“People are finding the little hardware store is a competitive as the large home center chains,” says Small. “They see we have the same deals.”

Nearly 60 percent of Small’s business, which includes four stores in the Cincinnati market, is hardware, says Small.

Re-merchandise you builders hardware lines periodically. Do your shelving hardware and shelving kits match? How often do customers request upgraded door and window hardware? Are locksets and deadbolts merchandised near other home security products? What is the competition doing to promote some of these items?

Not all consumers shop for solid brass door knockers and address numbers, but most shop for the best assortment and value.

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