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Chip off THE Old Block!

Updated: Aug 1, 2021

The last time I bought a one-inch “chip” brush, they would have cost $.19 each and come in a box of 48.

Chip brushes of course are the wood-handle, natural (ish) bristle brushes commonplace on paint store shelves.

The price of the chip so cheap, that over my 33-years at Tremont Paint I don’t recall ever attempting to negotiate with a vendor for a lower price on that item. Despite the hundreds of thousands of chip brushes I bought and sold over my career, the cost of the brush was so low that the saves never justified the effort.

As a paint dealer I had little worry for the cost of a chip brush. As a work-from-home e-commerce executive, I worry about it even!

Recently, the temperature of my cast iron skillet exceeded the flash-point of the bristles on a chip brush I was using to season a pan. With the last Tremont supplied chip brush, used for basting in the Lipton kitchen for years, reduced to a bristle-less ferrul, I was off to my locally-owned Grade A supermarket to buy a “basting” brush.

At retail!

The box of two-inch chip brushes I brought home from the shelves of Tremont Paint finally running dry, nearly two years after I totaled my last register drawer behind the counter.

It was then that I discovered the difference between a paint store chip brush, made to be disposed of after its dip in a gallon of Bin, and a basting brush meant to be washed and returned to the drawer.

The price!

But despite the joke, when I owned my two Bronx paint stores chip brushes were no laughing matter.

At the time I sold Tremont Paint in October of 2019, we were selling close to 10,000 chip brushes a year. Their disposable nature and price irresistible to Bronx painters!

Of-course at only $1 per brush, that still doesn’t amount to “hecka money” as my daughter Buck Wheat would say.

At least, not when measured by the brush.

But when measured by the career, the chip brush is a paint store superstar which I credit with paying for the voluble Buck’s four-year vacation at THE Ohio State University.

Chip off THE Old Block

Early in my time behind the counter at Tremont Paint it occurred to me that I wasn’t the only one who would not care about the cost of a chip brush. Customers, focused intently on the price of the paint, primer and sprayers, didn’t give a shit if a chip brush was $.99 or $1.19.

Or $1.99!

Which is what I was selling them for at the time I sold my stores.

Highway robbery!

But it was the Bronx, so witnesses rarely spoke up.

The move added $.75 (or more!) to my NET profit margin on each of the 10,000 chip brushes I would sell that year, slipping an extra $7500 into my wallet that first year. An amount which perhaps gets buried in the yearly profit of two stores buying paint by the truckload.

But multiplied out over the 33-years of my career and my pricing strategy on the “little brushes that could,” put over $200,000 onto the bottom line of the Tremont p & l.

More than the cost of Buck’s four-year party in Columbus!

Signs of THE Times

The dealers I speak with continue to vent about the ongoing challenges they face relating to product shortages, and the accompanying price inflation!

Those two forces are collaborating with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to make for challenging days for paint dealers.

But, the unusual circumstances of product shortages and price inflation are also creating an outstanding opportunity for paint dealers nation-wide to raise their gross profit margins.

Raise Your Prices

At Sherwin Williams stores nationwide there was a 7% price increase effective August 1st. At PPG company stores there have been three price increases announced since the onset of the pandemic. Neither are Home Depot or Lowes exempt from the laws of supply-and-demand.

So no matter where else they shop and be they DIY or professional painters, your customers understand.

Prices are going up!

Giving dealers their best opportunity this century to execute a strategy to increase their selling prices beyond the percentage increases which they are receiving from manufacturers.

And like the extra $.75 on the chip brushes, your customers won't have much to say about it.

Or due to the current uber-inflationary environment, won’t even notice.

Adding an extra 2% on top of a price increase from your paint vendor adds $10,000 per-year in NET profit for every $500,000 in paint your stores buy.

And then it does it again every year forever!

Adding $1 to the price of items with high volume as measured by units; chip brushes, plastic drop cloths, snap-off blades and other “less shopped” items like chip brushes could add far more.

Your customers may not notice, but your bank account will!


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