“Sales up 14 percent over last year,” Hasson says

Don Hasson, the president of House-Hasson Hardware, America’s largest independent regional hardware distributor, says sales increases at the company’s winter dealer market indicate 2014 will be a good year for hardware stores and lumberyards. He attributes some of this boost in customer activity to the severe winter experienced by much of the U.S.

“At our January dealer market, at Nashville’s Opryland Hotel, we saw sales up 14 percent over last year,” Hasson says. “The sales increase wasn’t concentrated in any particular product segment; it was across the board.”

Dealers are feeling more confident and optimistic because home sales–a driver for hardware store business–are picking up, though not at pre-recession levels.

“When we offer discounts on merchandise at a market, if dealers’ confidence in their economic prospects are low, they may buy 30 days of inventory of those products,” he says. “If confidence is high, dealers buy 60 days or more.

“That’s what we saw at this market: confidence,” Hasson says. “The general overview of the hardware and lumberyard business looks positive.”

The cold winter weather has made a difference as well.

“This was the worst winter weather in some parts of the country for 10 years,” Hasson says. “It’s an inconvenience, certainly, but it’s also a time when people go their neighborhood hardware stores.”

House-Hasson’s next dealer market is June 19-21 at the Sevierville Events Center in Sevierville, Tenn., just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.