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January 18, 2021 | Volume xxvii, #3



  • Increasing COVID restrictions place further pressure on the industry
  • Home Hardware’s B2B online gift card program proves popular during COVID
  • WRLA Showcase will use its magazine and app to host showcase
  • Dealers find ways to cope with supply issues as pandemic continues

PLUS: Amazon and Walmart let customers keep returns, Home Hardware launches Inspired Home Collection, BSIA virtual Wave of the Future Product event, DX3 Canada will hold its 10th edition, Armstrong launches commercial e-retail site, building construction declines, and more!

Increasing COVID restrictions place further pressure on the industry

Hardware retailers are among the non-essential retailers prohibited from admitting customers to stores under Ontario’s new lockdown rules. Premier Doug Ford announced the measures last week.

Until at least Feb. 11, hardware dealers will be limited to offering curbside pickup and delivery, beginning no earlier than 7 a.m. with closing time by 8 p.m. at the latest. At the same time, there will no restrictions on what goods they can offer within those hours, provided that customers place pickup orders before arriving outside.

A week earlier, Quebec faced further restrictions of its own. The province’s manufacturing and construction sectors will avoid a total lockdown during the four-week “shock treatment” initiated by Premier François Legault. They are however being asked to focus on essential goods and projects.

Hardware stores remain on the list of essential businesses. However, they may not sell non-essential items, restricting sales to “essential hardware products required for outdoor maintenance, repair, or construction,” and will have to close at 7:30 p.m. to allow employees to respect the 8 p.m. curfew that has also gone into effect.

At the same time, Quebec is loosening restrictions on curbside pickup. Previously, only essential businesses permitted to remain open for in-person shopping were allowed to offer the service. Now, non-essential businesses are allowed to operate for curbside pickup. The curfew, which extends till 5 a.m. with limited exemptions, will continue until Feb. 8.

In Alberta, more than 800 people were in hospital last week, while the province has seen the death rate exceed 1,300. As numbers spiked following Christmas and New Year, Premier Jason Kenney reinstated lockdown measures that will remain in place until at least Jan. 21. Restrictions include bans on all indoor and outdoor gatherings, while stores can only allow 15 percent capacity.

Fot its part, the Government of Saskatchewan has extended its restrictions on businesses and personal gatherings until at least Jan. 29. Current retail restrictions limit store capacity to 50 percent for both smaller stores and those larger than 20,000 square feet.

Meanwhile, the country waits for vaccine supplies to be administered to Canadians. The federal government has locked in an order from Pfizer-BioNTech for another 20 million doses of its vaccine, doubling the available number of doses. They are expected to arrive in April or May.

Home Hardware’s B2B online gift card program proves popular during COVID

Identifying digital gift-giving as a popular option during the pandemic, Home Hardware Stores Ltd. has launched a corporate bulk e-gift card program. Home Hardware’s new program provides clients with a way to recognize employees, support charitable organizations and enhance corporate-run promotions.

According to Home Hardware, the program is aimed at its customers, such as contractors, charities, or other organizations, as a way for those groups to incentivize or reward their employees and local communities.

The program allows corporate clients to purchase digital gift cards in denominations between $5 and $2,000 by filling out an online form at Bulk orders receive a discount, which is applied at the time of payment, and customers have the option to include a personalized message. Recipients can instantly use their eGift Card in store by printing it or displaying it on a mobile phone.

The eGift cards can be redeemed at any store under the Home Hardware, Home Building Centre, Home Hardware Building Centre, and Home Furniture banners.

“These gift cards can be used as part of loyalty and incentive programs, charity events, or promotional campaigns,” says Michael Gawtrey, director, loyalty and CRM at Home Hardware Stores. “They are also a simple way to say ‘thank you’ to those who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic.”

Organizations can offer Home Hardware gift cards as safety awards, service awards, consumer promotions, business gifts, sales incentives, or performance recognition.

“Sales for our B2B gift card program have been growing rapidly, and with so many people working from home, we know employers are looking for new ways to say thanks,” Gawtrey adds.


WRLA Showcase kicks off today with help from its magazine and app

The Western Retail Lumber Association’s Building & Hardware Showcase starts today. And if you’re at your computer or phone and download the app, you can attend.

It also helps to have a copy of the WRLA’s magazine, Yardstick, which provides a directory of products and events. The January issue contains a special section on the show.

Details to download the WRLA app on smartphones or desktops were sent via email to WRLA retail members and exhibitors. The show runs until Jan. 29.

“We wanted to take a fresh approach to the typical virtual events that members have been seeing in 2020,” says Liz Kovach, WRLA president. “Using the tools already at our disposal we’ve adapted them to create an innovative event that allows us to recreate the benefits and show atmosphere of the in-person event.”

While attendees at trade shows always value the face-to-face connections made on the show floor, Kovach says the virtual scenario helps there too. “Vendors and dealers can still form connections, plus staff and companies who often cannot travel to the show can take part this year,” she notes. “We know we can’t replace the complete in-person experience but we’re looking to accomplish the next best thing!”

Through the publication and app, members can participate in any of the 80-plus member “booths,” with company profiles, product info, and staff intros created by the members; new products feature area; show specials; and warehouse sales. The show organizers will also run in-app contests.

Retail members can attend virtual product knowledge sessions hosted by the WRLA and exhibitors during the show. The association is also holding various education sessions on industry and business topics.

Dealers find ways to cope with supply issues as pandemic continues

The severity of COVID cases in parts of the country has forced some provinces to grapple with a second wave. Through it all, the repair and reno markets surged ahead at break-neck speed, creating a new set of opportunities and challenges.

Eganville Country Depot, a Castle dealer in Eastern Ontario, had enough pressure-treated wood to meet demand through to the end of 2020, based on the bookings done in 2019. The store is affiliated with two other hardware stores, and the trifecta has been able to lean on each other to share inventory.

“We were lucky that last year [2019] when we did our booking for this year’s pressure-treated, that was done well enough that we had enough during the time of COVID because that was one of our big sellers,” says store manager Linda Armstrong. The three stores regularly confer to share product and discuss how bookings should look for the year ahead on everything from lumber to seasonal products.

“You try to keep your stock up in case you have the customers come in, but you don’t overbuy,” she says. “It’s a tough balance.”

Malcolm Firkser (shown above) owns three Home Hardware locations on Toronto’s east end. With 40 years’ experience, he has seen a lot in the business, but nothing compares to managing through a pandemic. Firkser spent last fall preparing for this spring and summer. He hopes the early bookings will pay off in multiple ways.

“We place orders now, which often means we’re getting additional discounts, which includes a profit margin,” he said last fall. “It comes in early, and then we’ve got time to merchandise it without the stress. That’s what helps the morale in the store … It helps getting through the January-February-March syndrome.”

Firkser says he is “conservatively optimistic” about 2021 and is ordering accordingly. He doesn’t expect the extraordinary bump in sales in 2020 to be duplicated this year and is referencing 2019 to gauge forecasting demands.

(This is excerpted from a larger article that appears in the latest issue of our print publication, Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly magazine. HHIQ was mailed to more than 11,000 dealers across Canada last week.)

People on the Move

At Nicholson and Cates, Brian Roger has been appointed director of sales and marketing – Specialty Building Materials Division. He previously spent nine years as sales manager. In his new role, Roger will be responsible for developing and executing the division’s sales and marketing plans, as well as developing and maintaining relationships with channel partners.

At Regal ideas Inc., Ernie Couillard has been appointed president. Couillard has spent the last 17 years at Regal in sales, marketing, and distribution for the aluminum railing company. Also at Regal, Clifton Phelps was promoted to director of sales, Canada. He had previously spent the last ten years as Ontario sales manager. Quinton Weber has been promoted to director of sales, USA. He was the former regional manager for Regal in the Midwest. Jim Topliss has been named director of commercial development, USA. He has been at Regal for 20 years in a range of key field management positions.

KM Agency has announced the retirement of Jamie Waldren after 15 years of service, effective Dec. 31, 2020. Waldren started in the industry over 30 years ago with Sumner Sporting Goods. He worked for Thornes Hardware, CN Weber, D.H. Howden, and All Star Marketing before joining KM Agency.


... that if you are the designated Company User for your company’s Hardlines subscription, you can update your company subscriber list at any time? Make sure your sub-user list is up to date by following the instructions here. Need to upgrade your subscription to include more users? Email Michelle for assistance. Make sure everyone on your team is in the know!


For retailers benefiting from online, one of the big challenges has been returns. Amazon and Walmart are among e-retailers pioneering the use of artificial intelligence to calculate the costs of returns. The onset of the pandemic has seen that strategy rolled out more widely. In some cases, that means refunding the customer while letting them keep the items for free. Those orders tend toward one of two extremes: either very inexpensive items whose cost is not worth recouping, or bulky and big-ticket purchases with hefty shipping costs.

Home Hardware Stores Ltd. has launched its Inspired Home Collection, a look-book designed to help Canadians visualize kitchen and bathroom projects. The publication is available in print at Home locations across Canada, as well as in digital format on, reebee, and Flipp.


The Building Supply Industry Association of B.C.’s Wave of the Future Product Expo & PK Sessions take place Jan.19 on Zoom. Talks include keynote addresses from Hardlines’ own Michael McLarney, as well as Marv Franz, author of The Inspired Workplace. Product knowledge sessions will cover categories from outdoor living and construction materials to power and hand tools. Click here for more information. 

DX3 Canada, which bills itself as Canada’s largest retail, marketing, and technology event, will hold its 10th edition March 2 to 5, with Hardlines as a media partner. The all-virtual event encompasses a Retail Summit and a Marketing & Innovation Summit. Among the speakers is Cynthia Wong, associate VP, digital product management at Canadian Tire Corp. For more information, including the full lineup, visit the DX3 Canada site. (For a 25% discount, use coupon code HARDLINES25.)

Armstrong World Industries has launched Kanopi, an e-retail site where customers including small businesses can buy Armstrong’s commercial ceiling tiles directly. The site has been online since September and now counts 11 employees. Armstrong spokesperson Jennifer Johnson told Lancaster, Pa.’s LNP newspaper that number is expected to exceed 100 within three years. Kanopi offers “end-to-end” service including delivery to business owners looking to replace tiles or ceilings quickly.


Total investment in building construction declined for a third consecutive month, edging down 0.1 percent to $15.3 billion in November. Slight decreases in both residential and non-residential construction led to minimal change overall. Non-residential investment was mostly unchanged in November, remaining at $4.4 billion. Investment in residential construction edged down 0.1 percent in November, declining for the first time in six months. Lower investment in multi-unit dwellings more than offset the growth reported for single-unit investment. (StatCanada)


British Columbia led the way in residential building permits in November, based on data from StatCan. Michael Straw, an economist for the agency, told CBC News that a handful of major developments in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island helped to drive the province’s numbers. B.C.’s construction industry also avoided the temporary shutdowns that affected other provinces during the pandemic.


“At Lowe’s, we will be committed to offering everything a homeowner needs to provide a ‘total home solution’ across every area in the home. This includes products and services for everything needed to repair and improve the home, for DIY and pro customers alike, across all décor categories including paint, as well as simple and complex installations.”
—Marvin Ellison, CEO and president of Lowe’s Cos., on his company’s “Total Home” strategy to expand categories and drive market share growth under the pandemic. 



Classified Ads


Responsible to the Store Design Manager for the delivery and execution of the category management plan, planogram development, store implementations and the Innovation Centre to support corporate objectives, goals and improve Dealer profitability.

Provide strong leadership, support and direction to the Space Planning team.

Collaborate with the Merchandise Team to develop and execute their retail vision for all product categories assigned by the category management plan. 

Develop tactical execution plans to support projects; manage project deadlines and communicate regular status updates.

Responsible for the deployment of the Innovation Centre which includes implementation of category management and Home branding components. 

Manage and monitor the Space Planning budget, exercising sound fiscal management to control expenses and generate revenue.


College/University diploma or degree in business, marketing or visual merchandising. 

Three to five years of practical experience directly managing a space planning or planogram team for a major retail organization. 

A thorough understanding of retail design, planogram development and brand deployment.
Ability to manage, lead and coach to a team.

Proficient computer skills with working knowledge of Planogram Development software, used in the retail industry.

Excellent organization, communication and interpersonal skills. 

Strong project management skills. 

Ability to travel and work additional or varied hours as required to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

Fluency in both English and French would be an asset.

*We thank all applicants for their interest;
however, only qualified candidates will be contacted for interviews.
Krista Gromeder, Recruitment Coordinator, Human Resources  Phone: 519-664-2252 ext. 6208
Job Application Deadline: Friday, January 8, 2021
We will accommodate the needs of qualified applicants on request, under the Human Rights Code in all parts of the hiring process.


HOURS:  8AM TO 4:30PM                                                                        GRADE:        9
Responsible to the Space Planning Manager for the design, development and delivery of planograms for the category management plan to maximize profitability and increase store sales.  
Create and maintain all planograms to support defined assortments and implementation for Home stores.

Contribute and participate in all required Category Management meetings and provide consult to Merchandise Managers as they develop their assortments.

Develop and design store fixtures, merchandising accessories and POP material. 

Review finished planogram designs/setup with the Space Planning Database Administrator.

Maintain and deliver planogram content supporting line reviews in the Store Builder and Store Planning Data Guides.


College / University diploma or degree in Business, Visual Merchandising or Space Planning. 

Minimum three years’ merchandising or equivalent retail experience required.

Knowledge of merchandise for use in retail hardware/building centres is essential. Familiarity with retail design concepts, store fixtures and Home’s internal processes are a definite asset.

Excellent communication skills and a proven ability to influence, interact and consult with leaders regarding category management planning. Ability to build strong relationships, foster trust and promote collaboration with key stakeholders within the organization.

Strong computer skills including Microsoft Outlook, Word and Excel, along with other space planning software applications (i.e. Intactix and Intactix Knowledge Base).

Excellent time management and organization skills.  Demonstrated ability to work independently with minimal supervision and to successfully prioritize, coordinate and manage multiple competing priorities.  Detail-oriented with a focus on delivering high quality work.

Bilingual in both French and English would be an asset.

*We thank all applicants for their interest;
however, only qualified candidates will be contacted for interviews.
Krista Gromeder, Recruitment Coordinator, Human Resources  Phone: 519-664-2252 ext. 6208
Job Application Deadline: Friday, January 8, 2021
We will accommodate the needs of qualified applicants on request, under the Human Rights Code in all parts of the hiring process.

Thriving, established lumber yard for sale in the North Perth (ON) area.

– 3-acre property with 4,750 square feet of store and 30,000 square feet of storage buildings.

– A large part of the yard is paved.

– Growing population in the region.

– Potential for business growth.

– Quality pool of loyal contractor customers.

– Currently runs as an independent yard and belongs to the Sexton Buying Group.

Please inquire through Wayne Smith; 519 291 4488


Looking to post a classified ad? Email Michelle for a free quote.



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