BASHAS' CHALLENGES HOME STORES

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Bashas' here is using an import program to challenge home supply stores like Home Depot and Lowe's on outdoor furnishings, creating a new competitive opportunity, said Bryon Roberts, vice president, GM.In the past, Bashas' didn't think in terms of competing with the home center stores, handling the typical spring and summer goods like ice chests and resin chairs. Now, "through the

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Bashas' here is using an import program to challenge home supply stores like Home Depot and Lowe's on outdoor furnishings, creating a new competitive opportunity, said Bryon Roberts, vice president, GM.

In the past, Bashas' didn't think in terms of competing with the home center stores, handling the typical spring and summer goods like ice chests and resin chairs. Now, "through the opportunities that have arisen in importing, we now do multi-millions of dollars in spring-summer. It opened up doorways by being able to have quality merchandise at a price where we could compete with those home stores. It opened up markets that we weren't even touching," he said.

Among the products the retailer is carrying are vinyl chairs, gazebos, swing sets, barbecue sets, patio umbrellas and market umbrellas. "In the Arizona market, outdoor products for spring is huge, but until the doorways of importing opened with China, it just wasn't available to us."

Before, Bashas' prices would have been 10% to 30% higher than a home store. "Now, I can actually have the same quality goods and I can even advertise lower than their everyday prices, provide a good value for my customer and a good quality product," Roberts said.

It's possible to go very low on pricing with imports by cheapening the quality of the product, he noted. "But if my consumer in my stores thinks that I'm giving them sub-par product at the same or a little bit better price than the home store, I'll sell them once and never sell them again. So my challenge to my partners in that area is that I want at least that level of quality, if not better, at a value to that consumer," Roberts said.

"There's a lot of good partners out there and they are going to make sure that they understand your requirements as far as specs on quality. You want the quality first and if quality is in line, then give me the best cost I can negotiate," he said.

With the capabilities for customization by Chinese manufacturing plants, Bashas' is just looking for existing products that will sell in its stores, he said. "In conventional stores with limited footprints, I'm able to take what has already been proved to be a winner and then capitalize on it," Roberts said.