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Emery Jensen Addition Means More Options For Grocers

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 09:31 am

Nearly 16,000 peopled attended the recent Ace Hardware fall show in Chicago, including retailers from across the country. The Oakbrook, Illinois-based company hosted more than 1,300 exhibitors offering springtime products like outdoor living and garden items, outdoor furniture, barbecue grills and plants and flowers.

Among the Ace storeowners were several grocery retailers looking to differentiate themselves by adding hardware offerings. Some grocers opt to convert small sections of an aisle into a hardware center, while others create entire hardware stores within their locations.

In general, grocers pick one or the other, either adding an entire Ace Hardware store adjacent to their grocery store or an in-store hardware center offered by Emery Jensen Distribution (EJD). If they choose the latter option, they may customize the offering to fit their needs.

Emery Jensen Distribution was formed as the result of Ace’s acquisition of Emery-Waterhouse Co., based in Maine, and Jensen Distribution Services on the West Coast, in Washington. Ace formed Emery Jensen Distribution to service customers in the middle of the country. These three entities all fall under Ace Wholesale Holdings, a subsidiary of Ace Hardware Corp. Because of the addition of what is now Emery Jensen Distribution, the company can offer grocers many more options.

In addition to hardware, Ace Wholesale Holdings President Hoyoung Pak said grocers also are interested in EJD’s seasonal assortments like holiday and outdoor living items.

“The breadth of our product offerings is one of the main reasons grocers are excited about working with us,” said Pak. “We feel like we’re uniquely positioned to help grocers become one-stop shops for their customers. Every single store in America can have an EJD offering within their store.”

EJD continues to gain ground in the year since its formation. When EJD was introduced at the Ace convention last fall, customers were not yet set up to place orders. Six months ago, at the Ace Hardware convention in Las Vegas, the ordering capability was there, and about a dozen grocery customers put in orders.

“At this show, we’ve grown from having a couple of dozen organizations represented—meaning customers and prospects—to just north of 90 organizations represented,” Pak said. “It’s just really an explosive growth, and we are seeing also a really big pickup among the grocery customers in terms of placing orders at the show.”

Grocers could get special deals at the August event, but Pak said several of the deals’ order end date extends beyond the show, allowing representatives who attended to take ideas back to their home offices.

Rob Rafacz, Emery Jensen Distribution merchandising manager, is the author of the grocery program. He said most of his time last year was spent trying to create an assortment that works well in grocery stores.

Rob Rafacz, merchandising manager, Emery Jensen Distribution.
Rob Rafacz, merchandising manager, Emery Jensen Distribution.

“One of the things that we’ve created is a hardware center, ranging from 24 feet all the way down to four feet, trying to create the perfect match between hardware and grocery,” Rafacz told The Shelby Report. “It’s been very successful because grocery has a lot of foot traffic, and they’re looking for something that can differentiate them in the marketplace and get additional sales while they’re providing an extra convenience for their customers.”

Rafacz said the company is working with some of the largest grocery retailers in America and explained how a hardware program helps grocers.

“The hardware items that we are proposing they (grocers) sell in their stores are new to them; however, the profit margin is much higher than they are used to, so they’re very excited about the profit they can make in this program,” he said. “It exceeds what they’re used to in grocery, plus, it establishes them as a destination for not just grocery, but other convenience items.”

EJD can help grocers expand their offerings from a basic four-foot area near the cleaning supplies in their stores to a full-blown assortment featuring “some of the best brands that you’ll find in the country, be it Stanley, 3M, Peak,” Rafacz said.

Grocers can, of course, also offer a larger assortment.

Ace and EJD also work with retailers on in-store signage and advertising programs so that the communities they serve are aware of the hardware offerings inside their grocery stores.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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