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To The Bronx, With Love!

The Bronx, New York, is my hometown and was the only location of Tremont Paint; my family’s four-generations independent paint dealership.

As a processional, The Lipton family spent 112-years selling paint in New York’s most densely populated borough; the 42-square miles the Bronx, only 31 square miles of which are developed, holds 1,400,000 New Yorkers.

The Bronx knows success beyond paint stores and baseball champions. The Bronx is the birthplace of some of celebrity’s most glamorous names such as Ralph Lauren and Jennifer Lopez!

“Jenny from the block’s” childhood home on Blackrock Avenue was just 1.6 miles from my Tremont Avenue store!

And it’s for sale! Maybe, the New York dealer I sold my two Bronx stores to, will make a sale when the new owners move in?

Considering my Bronx “pedigree,” it may come as no surprise that I have an outsized following in the New York borough which contains America’s poorest congressional district. Between the friends, former co-workers, dealers and reps I left behind when I sold Tremont Paint in 2019, it’s not unusual for me to get frequent notifications stating that my blog has a “new visitor from The Bronx.”

(Author’s note: I have a friend who tells me that I shouldn’t curse when I write my blog. He’s not one of these three.)

Last week it’s possible, that New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone read my blog while having his morning coffee! And then shared it with the team at their 5:45 PM pre-game meeting.

I have some data!

Anyway, whether Aaron is a morning, afternoon or evening reader I'm glad he was following along. And that he took my words to heart!

Since I published this blog on Thursday, Boone's Yankees have won five of their six games!

The only evidence I have that this didn’t happen is that he’s failed to mention my name at any of the post-game pressers.

But that’s pretty thin, don’t you think?

Show Me THE Money

Most paint dealers I am speaking with these days are telling a similar story to the one Aaron Boone was sharing at his dinner table this week: A return to good fortune!

Demand for paint and décor remains strong among the independents I speak to nationwide. With some regions of the country experiencing growth which would be impossible, during normal economic times.

Americans, stuck in their homes during a 14-month (and counting) pandemic continue to look for ways to update their surroundings. Paint and décor offer an excellent, low-cost choice for homeowners looking to make some upgrades. Particularly among those looking to "Do-it!" themselves.

THE Flip Side

Despite the high revenues and stable demand which is likely to last several quarters, not all is going well for dealers.

While I no longer receive the orders in the backroom at Tremont Paint, I hear from dealers who do who tell me that those orders are most-often, coming up short! Dealers share that as many as 40% of the items on each order are currently on backorder.

Or worse, cancelled! Likely the manufacturer’s recognition that those items may be out of stock for the foreseeable future.

While the February storms in Texas are partially to blame for these shortages, dealers complaints of shortages pre-date the Texas event by many months.

Supply chain disruptions and inordinate demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic have meant shortages of more than just coatings. Rollers, handles, cans and buckets as well as a scad of other sundry products continue to be difficult for dealers to procure.

Leaving me with no answer for the many number of dealers who have reached out to me over the last year and asked, “What’s up with Wooster?”

With some dealers sharing that their business is up as much as 80% though, the shortages do not seem to be anything more than just significantly inconvenient. You’re selling something, if revenue is up 80%!

Dealers experiencing record demand are likely also experiencing the rarest of conditions for a small business: being cash-flush.

With little inventory available to spend that money on!

Despite the absence of products to shelve from existing sources, dealers should not let their pandemic inheritance sit in the bank.

Rather than letting these earnings accumulate, beyond what's reasonably needed to fund your operations, I've been advising dealers I speak with intimately to look for chances to invest that money.

Back in their stores!

It’s always a good time to invest in your business by adding vendors, product categories, marketing programs, e-commerce sites and new locations. But could there be a better time than when you’re cash-rich, and the average checking account in the United States pays .03% interest? Dealers interested in capitalizing on this (literally) once in a lifetime opportunity should be creating executive time on their calendars.

You can’t make good strategic decisions when you’re behind the counter (Zach)!

Investing is not spending, but still don't forget to spend a little on yourself if you like. From what I am hearing, dealers are all working very hard at the moment, and there is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for your hard work.

You don’t have to listen to me of course. But when Aaron Boone and THE Yankees did, good things happened!

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