There’s a certain cliquishness to this year’s group of hard goods retailers with the largest gains in market share. Three discrete retail segments each have three different companies on the list; two other groups each have four representatives.
The sporting goods and outdoor recreation group is led by Bass Pro Shops, the second hottest of the Hot 100 Retailers following its takeover of Cabela’s. Camping World is co-owned by Marcus Lemonis, best known for his CNBC show “The Profit,” who won the rights to Gander Mountain’s operation in a bankruptcy court auction last year. The re-named Gander Outdoors serves the hunting, camping, fishing, shooting and active sports markets. Gander Mountain stores that had been closed began reopening as Gander Outdoors in December; new stores are also on the drawing boards, company officials say.
The high performer in automotive retailing is AutoZone, the country’s largest auto parts retailer for more than a decade, and The Home Depot leads the home improvement/hardware sector, wielding a savvy combination of building supply expertise along with a sophisticated approach to ecommerce. Also in this group is Harbor Freight Tools, making its first-ever appearance among the Hot 100 Retailers.
Harbor Freight began as a mail order business handling liquidated and returned tools and equipment more than 40 years ago. Its first store opened in 1980 in Lexington, Ky., primarily to sell returned merchandise from its catalog. It took 10 years to add another 10 stores, but growth picked up rapidly to the point where it now has more than 800 locations in addition to its huge mail order and ecommerce business.
Home retailers sell furniture, furnishings, décor, domestics and housewares in stores as large as Nebraska Furniture Mart’s, measured in football fields, and as small as RH’s lavishly styled galleries that measure as little as 8,000 square feet.
Ikea has refashioned itself as a “whole home” solutions provider. “We at Ikea have a unique point of view about home solutions,” says Richard La Graauw, the retailer’s U.S. communication and interior design manager.
“We create better homes. This is being promoted and reflected in our catalog and stores. In one way, it is more about creating solutions that solve people’s daily frustrations. It inspires us to make a difference in people’s lives.”