Where there’s color, there’s service

October 3, 2010 | By Ken Clark

The opportunity for hardware stores to win in the paint category begins with convenience, but it doesn’t end there.

That’s one of the key ideas put forth by Mary Rice, Ace’s president and general manager, paint, who joined Ace in May from Behr Paint, the dominant brand at Home Depot’s color centers. Rice sees opportunities for Ace dealers to win on convenience and service in the hardware channel.

“I think, in general, the hardware channel is really a place where paint is sold as a convenience item,” she told Home Channel News.

The warehouse home centers dominate paint sales. According to a recent study from the NPD Group, the warehouse home center channel accounts for 58.1% of total paint sales, compared with 20% of specialty paint stores and 5.3% of hardware stores.

“One of the things that I think is really important to remember is: Paint is not self-service,” she said. “The whole act of picking out a color and going through the process of validating the color and then helping them tint their paint—that requires help.”

From a service perspective, the opportunity exists to provide comfort in validation to a person, and also to provide guidance and advice on what paints and primers match the customer’s specific project—say living room wall or basement floor.

Of course, brands matter, too. At the Ace Hardware Spring Market, Ace and Benjamin Moore announced a “strategic alliance” that has the effect of putting greater selection at a variety of price points on store shelves. At the Fall Market, Ace will again have one booth that will include Benjamin Moore and Ace paint brands, “synthesized in that booth to show the strength of the brands together in the store,” she said.

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