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Product diversity on display in Las Vegas

Flexon brought additional color to its booth.

New faces and veteran exhibitors gathered in the Las Vegas Convention Center on Tuesday for the 2011 National Hardware Show. Always a collection of innovative new products and packaging, this year proved to be no exception, with offerings like the Easy Reach Plant Pulley (you can raise and lower hanging plants to water them) and Heat Zone, a shop light with a heater and a fan, both on display in New Product World.

Larger companies like Flexon, a manufacturer of hoses and watering accessories, took the opportunity to broaden into new categories. Flexon debuted a line of lightweight planters, gardening hand tools (long-handled, short-handled and cutting tools), and even a new wheelbarrow. In the paint and sundries department, Padco -- the inventor of the painting pad -- brought out a niche line of green products made of 100% recycled plastic, cardboard and soy ink. 

Vermont American returned to the show after a 10-year absence with a 12-ft. planogram of power tool accessories. “The hardware show is a great venue to reconnect with your retailers, your key buyers,” said group marketing manager Arthur Stankiewicz. Both current and prospective customers “can get a sense of what it’s like to have Vermont American in your store,” said Stankiewicz, who was pleased with the foot traffic. “We’ve been seeing our customers since before the door opened.” 

Robert Bosch Tool Corp. was another vendor that returned to the show after a 10-year absence.

Greg Fuller, CEO of All American Home Center in Downey, Calif., was on the lookout for “high-impulse and disposable or consumable” products for his Southern California hardware store. Once gas passed $4.00 a gallon, Fuller said, consumers pulled back on their spending.

“It’s a repair and fix-it market,” Fuller explained. “So I’m looking for items at lower price points that customers can use up and then come back to get another.” Top of Fuller’s list: dog chews and treats.