Q: What is a co-op? How does it work?
A: A co-op or cooperative is a retailer-owned buying group, consisting of members. It's not a franchise but a group of individual storeowners. Collectively, all these store operators own their wholesale distributor, which is True Value Company. Another way to look at True Value Company is as a retailer-owned wholesaler of hardware and related merchandise.

What makes a cooperative unique is the combined buying power of its retailer, which happens to be the most important benefit of the co-op. True Value Company consolidates distribution, operation and promotion costs into one company.

Q: What does it mean to be a member?
A: As a co-op member, you're part of a larger buying group. However, you're still the one in charge of your store. You make the decisions that are right for you, your store, your employees and your customers. In order to make these decisions, you need information and, sometimes, guidance. That's where the co-op comes in, providing expertise in areas such as finance, technology, merchandising, marketing and much more.

Q: How do I become a member?
A: To become a member, you must purchase 60 shares of Class A common stock per store (capped at 5 stores). In addition to acquiring the stock, there are other financial considerations to be made in order to cover inventory, fixtures, equipment and start-up costs.

Q: What are some of the advantages of being a True Value Company member?
A: The cost of goods is the largest expense for most retailers and can represent nearly 60 percent of a storeowner’s expenses. One of the many advantages of belonging to a co-op is that the wholesale distributor can be more efficient because of the huge sales volume, thus allowing the independent retailer to improve his/her buying power to complete with the likes of large chains. And, one of the best aspects of the co-op system is that 100 percent of the profits made at the wholesale level are divided and returned back to the members at the end of the year.

With more than 4,000 retail locations worldwide and more than $1.8 billion in gross billings, True Value Company is one of the largest hardware co-ops in the world. This high volume of sales allows True Value Company to receive even greater manufacturer discounts, which are then passed along to members.

True Value Company has 60-plus years of experience in the hardware industry and a widely recognized brand that members need and use. There's also the benefit of an approximate 65,000-SKU assortment, the well-known name of True Value and niche opportunities, among many others.

Q: Is there a fee?
A: There is no fee.

Q: How do I get started? Who do I contact?
A: If you're interested in becoming a True Value Company member, simply call 888-291-7229 to speak with an associate in our retail growth department.

Q: Do you offer assistance in setting up a store?
A: Once you've decided to become a True Value Company member, our team is with you every step of the way. Our business-planning group can help with store layout, design and financing options. Once the store is up and running, they can help you fine-tune your operation by providing financial analysis of the business, financial assistance (financing and refinancing) and financial training.

The planning team will work with you to evaluate locations for your store, whether it already exists or has yet to be built. When the store location is set, you'll be able to pick and choose various features, including signage, product mix, fixtures and even store attire.

Presentation for a retail store is key. More and more customers make their buying decisions in the store, so how a store looks is crucial. Our experts will assist you in store design and cross merchandising, as well as end-cap displays and bargain bins. We have it all, and we can offer you the right mix. With the right displays, you'll make your store an attractive and efficient shopping environment for customers.

You're not alone in this new venture; you have the True Value Company co-op to tap into as your main resource in the hardware industry.

Q: Do you offer advertising/marketing support?
A: The work is far from over, even after your store is open. Now you have to get customers in the door, which is where our marketing solutions come in. We provide national advertising and promotions that are sure to drive traffic – all scheduled during key selling seasons.

For example, we have Power Events that take place several times a year and feature amazing deals on seasonal products. All of this is backed by national multimedia campaigns, attracting customers to the store and growing retail sales and profits.

You also have the option of choosing from our flexible circular program. You can select several ad events each month, deciding if you want to add pages to feature your key merchandise and signature departments.

In 2004, we launched a customer loyalty program – True Value Rewards. This program attracts customers to your store with financial incentives. In the end, not only does this translate to increased sales and profits, but it also creates a loyal customer.

We even offer regional and local advertising support, along with co-op advertising funds. This gives you the ability to customize your message specifically for your market and audience.

Q: What product lines do you offer?
A: True Value Company provides you with many choices that allow you to easily customize your product mix to match your target market. We carry thousands of vendors, offer an array of top national brands and have special regional assortments.

We also offer thousands of private-label brand names, including True Value, Master Mechanic, Green Thumb and Master Plumber. There's also our critically acclaimed True Value paint line. Only True Value Company members have access to these brands, which are comparable to national brands but at a savings of 15 to 20 percent. Our private-label brands will continue to grow, as we develop and add new items, to help you better compete in today's market.

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