Our solutions will save you money.
By Jesse Carleton - Hardware RetailingDecember 1st 2012
Shoppers don't hesitate to spend money on storage solutions for their homes, says Tyler Knight, general manager at Knight's Home Building Centre in Meaford, Ontario, and he's turned the category into a lucrative niche.
If you don't offer storage products, you may be missing out on some big opportunities for high margins. Think you're too small an operation or not in the right market to offer custom storage systems? Don't limit your definition of the category. Storage can range from a spice rack to a custom closet solution. Also, as we're well into the holiday season, consider promoting storage totes for holiday decorations storage in the power aisle or on endcaps.
Study trends, be willing to promote storage items through creative merchandising and offer special services, such as design and installation, and you will quickly become your local destination for this category.
The economy has played a large role in why shoppers
are spending more resources on storage products.
"Homeowners and apartment dwellers alike are
increasingly trying to live within their means and
reduce their monthly living expenses," says Barry
Izsak, a certified professional organizer (CPO)® and
past president of the National Association of Professional
Organizers. Sometimes that means downsizing to a
smaller living space, and when that happens, "they
realize that their only hope of accomplishing this
is by getting organized, holding on to what is really
necessary and to be as creative as they can be in utilizing
and maximizing the space that they have," says this well-known Austin organizing expert.
Storage is not only utilitarian, fashion trends
also drive the category. In addition, closets aren't
the only places people want to organize. Elaborate,
custom-fit storage solutions are spreading to every
room of the house.
Garage. While the garage has long carried the reputation as one
of the most unorganized spots in the home, homeowners are giving
it a second look. Knight says many of his customers are looking
for special-order items configured to meet the specific needs
of their garages. In Izsak's best-selling book, Organize Your Garage in No Time,
he says that in custom garage organizing systems, flexibility is key.
Storage products that incorporate track systems are popular, Knight says,
because hooks and shelves can be moved around to accommodate
changing needs from season to season. "They can set
up the system to run along the entire garage. One day they can
set it up to hold skis, then the next season it can hold the lawn
mower," he says.
People also want to use all the unused space in the garage, like
in the ceiling or above the garage door. Pulley systems that lift
heavy sporting equipment like kayaks or bicycles, for example,
and store them safely out of the way are becoming more popular.
While the garage is getting more organized, in some areas
of the country, people are taking it a step further. It's the new
social area, and not with a few rusty shelves and a workbench.
“We are seeing a trend toward the garage becoming more of a
man cave. The floor is painted, there can be TV with cable, a
stereo, a fridge, even a microwave, and the storage has to look
organized and have an upscale, updated look to it. The days of
a hook here and a hook there are gone,” says Janet Lane, associate
merchandise manager at United Hardware.
Closet. Closets are getting bigger and more elaborate. Jon
Alford of Wilson Lumber in Huntsville Ala., says in the larger
closets, some customers ask for built-in wooden cabinets
and drawers. Master closets are getting bigger and sometimes
include seating areas, mirrors and islands that create additional
storage space. Shoe storage continues to be a major demand.
Consumers with smaller closets and smaller budgets still
want closet systems to fit their individual needs. “Before, customers
would just buy standard racking shelves. Now, everyone
wants a designer look and a higher-grade product,” says
Robert Shim of Desert Shores Ace Hardware in Las Vegas.
“It’s also become more specialized and customized to a customer’s
needs.” In recent years, Shim has grown the storage category
in his store from 100 linear feet to more than 300 linear feet. Izsak's company, Arranging It All in Austin, Texas, installs Elfa closets for clients who want a new closet, but are on a budget.
Laundry Room. Laundry rooms aren’t just for the washer
and dryer anymore; they’ve become important storage areas.
Instead of being in the basement, laundry rooms today are
typically on the main floor, often doubling as mudrooms.
They’re getting bigger in size, and like other storage areas,
people want to dress them up.
“We’re seeing people putting kitchen cabinets—usually wall
cabinets—into the laundry room, sometimes taking them from
a kitchen they’ve remodeled,” Knight says. Customers will then
purchase a countertop they can mount over the top of front-load
washer and dryer machines. They might even put in a new laundry
sink. “They’re basically making the laundry room look a lot
more like a kitchen,” he says.
Kitchen. Instead of remodeling the entire kitchen when they
need more space, people are looking for better ways to use the
space they have. Cabinet add-ons and accessories such as slider
racks and lazy susans make it easy for the homeowner to reconfigure
cabinet spaces to be more efficient and accessible.
Pantries are another area where consumers are spending money.
This room also has the potential for customized shelving systems
like in other closet areas. Alford at Wilson Lumber, who says more
and more homeowners are looking for ways to upgrade their pantries,
says many of them also want decorative doors on the front to help dress up the space.
The Arranging it AllSM team is mentored and trained by a Certified Professional Organizer.
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