2019 Reimagine Retail Program

Hear from the 2018 Winner – Matt Woods

Reimagine Retail is an essay-based award program that asks Independent Retailers to submit their ideas on how they can improve their business for the future. Each year, the National Hardware Show and a panel of industry experts choose one Grand Prize winner to win $100,000 to assist in the improvement process of their retail store.

Five finalists are chosen and flown to the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas where they take part in a panel discussion and award ceremony—the Grand Prize winner in announce live on the NRHA Stage during the Show.

Stay tuned for information regarding the 2019 program…

Congratulations to our 2018 winner
Woods Hardware from Cincinnati, Ohio!

Woods Hardware will be using the $100,000 to make a number of improvements including: offering same-day delivery to customers within a three-mile radius; allow customers to shop on their website using a 3D walkthrough of their downtown store; improve their POS system to send real-time inventory data to their website; hire a full-time IT professional to manage the new technology-based system.

  • Reimagine Retail Winner Woods Hardware
  • Reimagine Retail Winner Woods Hardware

Stay tuned and updated for more from the winner and how Woods Hardware is working to implement the a new e-commerce and POS System for their stores. Making same-day ordering and delivery possible for their customers.

From the Winner – Woods Hardware – January Blog

  • New Stand Up Desk
  • New Stand Up Desk

What a month it has been since my last post. The greatest lesson I’m learning in tech is that if I think it’ll take 3 weeks, estimate 6. We just got our computers from Dell that we ordered back in November. I think Black Friday caught them off guard because our two week ship time moved to eight! Needless to say, my new desktop is ready and deployed to start mapping the 3-D store. We bought a pretty sweet Alienware desktop. One of the hardest parts about linking the e-commerce to the virtual tour is the time for the graphics to load and save. We decided to use a nice chunk of our award to buy a “super computer” that will load the images much much faster. It took me three weeks to back link the original tour we completed and I’m estimating that I can complete this tour in 10 days. Fingers crossed. The biggest challenge is that I’m also running our company as CEO and while this project is important, I have to still make sure my people and our 6 stores are running smoothly.

As you can see in the pictures, I set up a traditional desktop with 3 monitors. This will help me to be able to drag and drop a lot of the code I need to create the 3-D store. I also bought a desk that moves to standing height so I can continue working on the project while I need to get the blood flowing from sitting too much.

We had a bit of a snafu with our free local delivery feature that made things complicated for our web developer. We’d really like to emulate Amazon with the Free Shipping for anything over $35 and to do that is fairly complicated in the e-commerce world. From time of execution, it looks like we will officially be ready to launch sometime in February.

Lastly, we got the awesome opportunity to visit the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas this past week. What an eye opening experience to see the latest and greatest in tech. We went with the stated goal to find more vendors that can help us create a better virtual shopping experience. We ended up finding a great 3-D touring camera that outdoes our current one and we also may have landed a deal to have a self driving vehicle make deliveries. The best part about that is that the self driving vehicle would be free. More to come on that one, but I will update you all in February once all the details are worked out.

From the Winner – Woods Hardware – November 2018

November saw a lot of challenges but also a lot of great progress. Our e-commerce site is virtually days away from going live. I’m too much of a perfectionist to roll anything out before it’s ready and there are some minor design and functionality fixes needed before we can release. The challenge in the e-commerce world is human behavior. The searchability of the site is key and the current search functionality basically has to have the consumer know how to spell items exactly the way they are spelled. Case in point. Rustoleum is actually spelled “Rust-Oleum”. If in the current environment someone were to search for that product, it could be cumbersome and challenging to find it and that’s why I’m working with the developers on adding a predictive text search option.

I’m also taking advantage of the Cyber Monday Deals and having to buy a super computer that will help me map our 3-d store to the website. One of the most frustrating pieces of putting together the site is the amount of time it takes to load images and get mapping done. I believe with this new Alienware Dell computer that should arrive by next week, it’ll cut my time in half just by the increase in processing power. The first time we developed a working model, it took me 3 weeks of sitting on the couch, streaming music or Netflix in the background to get the entire store mapped. I’m hoping that if I can get it done in just over a week, we can have the entire site including backlinking of the 3-D store complete by the end of December.

One of the biggest challenges thus far has been how fast time is going. By outsourcing some of the critical pieces to Builder Wire and Spruce, there have been delays but it has greatly helped to make sure the site has a smooth rollout. Our downtown store hopes to go live sometime in January. Once the bugs are worked through, then we will one by one adding our additional locations. Stay tuned!

From the Winner – Woods Hardware – October 2018



We are now on month 4 of our launch of our 3-D Hardware E-commerce solution. Since our big win back in May, we’ve been working feverishly getting deals signed with multiple e-commerce partners as well as revamp our Point of Sale Solution. We partnered with two companies. ECI Solution – Spruce Point of Sale and Builder Wire. We went live with Spruce in August and after making sure a lot of the bugs were out of the system, we executed an agreement with Builder Wire to create a e-commerce website that can tie in directly to our database at our 5 locations.

While we are working hard behind the scenes, we are currently about 8 weeks away from having a live demo of our site and hope to go live in early December. A lot of the challenges we’ve faced is the incredibly difficult task of marrying up our inventory to the e-commerce site. Having one store’s inventory tie in is challenging enough, but to have 5 simultaneous inventories give real time inventory is a very daunting task. Builder Wire is an expert in getting multiple database inventory to flow online and we are looking forward to seeing their work over the next few weeks.

Coming up, we are going to be getting all of the e-commerce equipment set up at each of the store s and we are having each store do physical inventories to make sure their reported inventory is accurate. The last thing we want is to say we have an item for sale online and the inventory to not be correct. The five stores will be working hard on inventory from October 1 through the end of the year. It is our absolute hope to start online sales at one store by January 1. Barring no major bugs, we’d like to launch the solution at all stores by the next National Hardware Show.

Look forward to filling you all in next month.


Matt Woods
CEO Woods Hardware

Congratulations to our 2018 Finalists!

  • The Color House

    Wakefield, Rhode Island

    The team at The Color House has a vision to make their rewards program stand out. The business plans to use the social media platforms where its customers spend most of their time to build its network. In addition to earning rewards for purchases, customers would also earn rewards for referrals, reviews and social media sharing. They would be able to see how close they are to their next reward, and those who engage the most would earn exclusive perks.

  • Just Grillin Inc.

    Tampa, Florida

    In its showroom, Just Grillin Inc. imagines a connected space to allow customers to actually see what their new living space could look like. Through tablets, mounted TVs and voice-activated smart home assistants, the company will be able to take customers on a virtual tour of their proposed outdoor living renovation. In addition, Just Grillin plans to enhance its marketing and website to attract new customers to the in-store connected showroom.

  • La Grange Park Ace Hardware

    La Grange Park, Illinois

    La Grange Park Ace Hardware aims to use technology to streamline online orders and better serve customers. The store plans to install parcel lockers to facilitate the increasing number of buy online/pickup in store orders it receives. Customers can use the lockers to get their online orders and even rent tools directly from La Grange Park Ace Hardware. The company also plans to install a Perfect Plant kiosk to help manage its live goods inventory.

  • Weeks Home Hardware

    Waterdown, Ontario

    The team from Weeks Home Hardware wants to use technology to track customers, install self-serve kiosks and build an e-commerce platform. Using an array of digital tools, the business seeks to understand how customers move and interact within the store. The company plans to use kiosks at the entrance of the building to give customers digital access to flyers and coupons. Weeks Home Hardware also wants to integrate an e-commerce platform with its inventory management system to allow customers to view and purchase items online and receive in-store pickup.

  • Woods Hardware

    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Woods Hardware wants to offer same-day delivery to customers within a three-mile radius of each of its five stores. The business has already developed a 3D walkthrough of its downtown store that links to the e-commerce website. The fully realized plan would allow customers to virtually walk through the aisles of the store, click on an item and have it delivered the same day. To implement the system, Woods Hardware needs to make significant improvements to its POS system so it can send accurate inventory data to the website in real time. The company also wants to hire a full-time IT professional to manage the system.

This year, we asked independent retailers: "If you had $100,000 to spend on improving your retail business' technology—how would you invest it?"

In a world where technology is at the forefront of every home and business, it's an integral part of everyday life. How will technology impact the future of the hardware & home improvement industry? Are you investing in technology to improve your store for the future?

Together with a panel of industry professionals, the National Hardware Show will review the entries and determine which project is most worthy of winning the $100,000. Five finalists will be flown to the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas and the winner will be announced and awarded $100,000 during the Show on Wednesday, May 9.

2018 Submission Requirements:

Eligible Independent Retailers were asked to submit a 250 word (or less) entry highlighting how they would invest in technology to improve their store for the future. Accompanying photos/videos were permitted but not judged as part of the overall submission.

We looked for projects that focused on improvements relating to store technology and included, but were not limited to:

  • Inventory management systems
  • Check out process
  • Marketing, advertising and public relations
  • E-commerce platforms
  • Training software
  • In-store experience
  • Customer relationship management systems

Caribou Jack's Trading Co., Soda Springs, Idaho

The store is in the process of building an in-store cafe, combining the farm-to-table and grilling communities together. Their plans also include allowing community organizations to access the space at no charge and building a space within the next three years to grow the produce used in the café, as well as develop an app to help groups coordinate events in the space.

  • Debbie Supply, Inc., East Rochester, New York

    Starting out as a plumbing wholesaler 60 years ago, Debby Supply Inc. has grown into a full-service hardware operation and would plan buy new service equipment, and invest in upgraded computer systems [to support the new equipment] to better serve its customers.

  • K Hardware Stores, Idaho Falls, Idaho

    If you've ever needed a part or a product in the middle of a project, but didn't want to stop to run to the store, K Hardware Stores wants to build a solution that fits in the palm of your hand. Instead of asking someone to run out for the product and risk them buying the wrong item, they envision an app that allows customers to preorder the correct item and get curbside pickup when they arrive at the store.

  • La Grange Park Ace Hardware, La Grange Park, Illinois

    La Grange Park Ace Hardware wants to address its challenges in the configuration of their store by using the prize money to remove its current checkout counter, allowing space for more impulse items, and implementing mobile checkout. With mobile checkout, customers will be able to complete their sale anywhere in the store, even from the parking lot.

  • Logan Hardware, Washington, D.C.

    How much business does your in-store service lose because your customers can't find time to bring the project to you? The answer, according to Logan Hardware, is mobile window-screen repair. They would develop an app that will connect customers to screen repair services that come to them and could be expanded to other services as well.

  • Mark's Supply, Frackville and Shenandoah, Pennsylvania

    Mark's Supply wants to update their storefront and invest in renewable energy solutions for the store. In addition, they would build an outdoor pavilion where farmers and crafters can sell their goods. They expect this space to increase foot traffic and inspire other retailers and entrepreneurs to enter the empty storefronts in the area.

  • Parry's, Hamilton, New York

    The retailer planned to use the $100,000 prize money toward renovating its current store to add space for local food, craft beer and cider and adding a permanent greenhouse to accommodate lawn and garden items and seasonal merchandise.

  • Sandpoint Super Drug, Sandpoint, Idaho

    Sandpoint Super Drug is well known in its community for being the go-to pharmacy and is planning to revitalize the hardware side of its business by improving communication options for customers. They were inspired to create a customer consultation center that would allow customers to contact store representatives through many digital platforms, including social media and live chat.

  • Shaw Hardware Store Inc., Plattsmouth, Nebraska

    This woman-owned business has plans to improve its online presence, renovate the existing store to add more sales floor space and create a space for local craftspeople to lead classes and encourage young people to engage in a craft or artform. These plans build on what already exists at the store, which hosts classes at the local community college and in the store for projects from home repair to Pinterest.

  • Woods Hardware, Cincinnati, Ohio

    The Woods Hardware team virtualized a 3-D image of their store and wants to be a leader in omnichannel retailing with the next step. Using meta tags, how-to videos and e-commerce within the program, the virtual hardware store takes customers right to each product and provides a total cost estimate before they visit the store.

View all photos from 2017 Reimagine Retail


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