Learnings from National ACE Hardware Show 

Associated Food Stores asked a few team members from ARO and AFS to attend the 2021 ACE Fall Buying Show and they reported back on some of the interesting things they saw at the show. 

ace show floor sign


The team attended the show to support the four ACE stores ARO supports. In addition to buying for the four stores, the team had opportunities to attend trainings provided by ACE; learn more about the shopper technology the company offers, and learn more about ACE as a company. It was a productive week and the team learned many great things that can help operate Associated’s ACE stores better, as well as items that can potentially be adopted by AFS. 



Here are a few highlights from the ACE show: 

  • ACE Foundation – ACE has a charitable foundation that supports the Children’s Miracle Network. At the show, the ACE and Children’s Miracle Network teams were on the show floor with a large booth up near the front of the show. They were selling a variety of ACE wear (shirts, sweatshirts, hats, show pins, and more with all proceeds going to the charity.  

Additionally, they had a raffle with a variety of giveaways that were donated by vendors. Finally, ACE has special “tear down” t-shirts on sale on the last day of the show for team members and vendors for $10 a shirt. The teardown t-shirts are a tradition that was started a few years ago and is another easy way for their team and vendors to support ACE’s primary charity. 

  • New Item Area – ACE had an entire area dedicated to new and trending items. The area served as a strong message to their retailers about the importance of these items and keeping things fresh in-store. They also included signage that provided additional Category Manager expertise/training. Each sign had a photo of the category manager, basic copy talking about new and trendy in the CMs area, and a QR code that went to a video of the CM talking about his/her specific category. 
  • Retailer Education – ACE had education going on all day each day of the show. Their education took place on the show floor. They had a large area with seating. Most of the education sessions included retailer panels. The participating retailers talked about how they were using specific ACE programs successfully at retail. Having retailer education on the show floor was a nice demonstration of their commitment to retailer and team education.  

It was a busy week visiting hundreds of booths; learning about show deals, special promotions, and upcoming events; and attending classes. The ARO and AFS team members appreciated the professionalism and effort they witnessed from ACE. 

ACE is much like AFS. It is a large coop, supporting small, local, independent hardware stores across the U.S. and internationally. They face many of the same challenges and have similar opportunities as AFS. They support the backbone of the AFS economy – small, mom and pop business.