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And the Emmy Goes To!

Whether in reality or as some kind of metaphor, my family has always smelled like paint thinner!

I spent this afternoon being socially distant with my Aunt Emily. We spent far too much of the time speaking about dead people; but it was great to see her anyway!

She asked me to try and kill a wasp that had been flying around her house and she pointed to a spot behind an indoor tree as its last known location. To kill it, I grabbed the only thing she had handy; a half-done NYT crossword puzzle.

Of course that’s all she would have handy!

While digging through the living room forest, I found an extra Emmy Award! Behind the houseplant! I want to have so many awards for greatness that I have to toss the “extras” behind my house-plants!

It was a big plant and so at least I understood how it got lost back there!

I have spent this week catching up on my life. In addition to leaving me fatherless and exhausted, three weeks in Florida also left me way behind schedule on a number of things; including contact with dealers.

I try to speak to several independent paint retailers each day. That contact is what helps me stay up to date on what’s happening in stores around the country.

Your stores.

Dealers with a heavy emphasis on DIY continue to set records! Decorating departments are beginning to reopen with robust paint sales making up for lost decorating revenue. Key manufacturers confirm the trend to me and add that exterior products are leading the way! Dealers with paint AND hardware continue to get rich as consumers seek out locally owned alternatives for their new bar-b-ques and weed-whackers.

Not all dealers find themselves so flush of course. Dealers in the New York metro area (NY, NJ and CT) continue to struggle as many of us are just coming out of the months-long lock-down. Dealers who are heavily dependent on contractor business are also off, though starting to show signs of life. The small contractor segment was heavily battered. It will come back, but I feel it will happen slowly. In recent Farthsworth Group data, contractors state that they feel the worst is behind them because of growing requests for quotes. But heath concerns: from homeowners AND workers, continue to hold this segment back.

And then of course there’s e-commerce.

Earlier this week I spoke to a dealer who has had e-commerce up since May of 2019. His sales over his e-commerce are up 500% over the same period last year. He was bummed about it too! But only because during the height of the pandemic his e-commerce sales were up over 3000% over the same period a year ago.

I’d take that even for a day!

Surely, normalization is to be expected. An event like a pandemic is bound to create some strange looking charts! But this trend is still your friend. E-commerce is NOT going anywhere!

I recorded a podcast last week with Grant Farnsworth of THE Farnsworth Group. They’re the marketing research group who specializes in the building supplies channel. Their data is clear: that the trend towards e-commerce, which existed before the Covid-19 outbreak, continues to accelerate.

Covid-19 has just been the gasoline on the fire.

Of course, their data confirms what so many of you have been telling me; people are coming back to brick and mortar stores as well. Home Depot and Lowes are killing it with HD up over 7% in the first quarter and suspending guidance for the second quarter; likely because they’re so busy they can’t count the cash that fast! On June 22, 2020 Sherwin Williams announced that their previous guidance stating that their second quarter would be down was in-fact premature; they’re doing just fine-thank you very much!

And so even though independent dealers are doing well in this environment, these national players continue to grow faster than those of us in the independent channel. While the rising tide IS lifting all the boats….the big boats are being lifted higher. That means that even though we are all busy AND consumers continue to express interest in “buying local,” the independent channel continues to lose market share to the big boxes and national chains.

Lack of e-Commerce is the reason, or at-least a big part of it. All the national stores have it, yet too few independents have made that investment.

What I’m learning on the e-commerce job which I am currently working on for an independent retailer leaves me thinking that there are some simple solutions to this problem.

I’m working on them. Mark my words! I expect to share some significant news on this front within the next two weeks.

Speaking of “Mark, My Words!” I’m aware that I’ve been falling behind on the “Mark, My Words!” podcasts. Sit tight for a week and I’ll share some real data with you from the lips of Grant Farnsworth himself! I also shared some time recently with Russell Brasher, the newest Benjamin Moore dealer in the United States! I found Russell when I noticed his cool looking new store in a LinkedIn post. Russell is a great guy who is just learning how to be a dealer after 30-years on the other side of the counter. He’s a dynamite dude who I will hope to meet face to face at a NHS or Allpro show sometime soon!

I mean, we won’t be stuck in our houses like this forever!

Will we? Anyone?


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