David LeClair, Associate DMM Merchandising, Staples

The July 13, 2020, issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® features the 21st annual Impact Merchants special report. Housewares suppliers, representing the categories that HomeWorld covers, once again were asked to nominate buyers and merchandisers believed to have made a significant impact during the past year.

The selection of the Impact Merchant winners is not intended as a definitive list of the best merchants in housewares retailing. Votes went to several more merchandisers than those featured. This year’s honorees represent buyers in given categories that received the majority of votes by vendors polled.

Voters were asked to give added weight to merchandising creativity, trend and marketing astuteness, attention to detail, openness to risk, flexibility, relationship building and the ability to deliver a profitable program for both the vendors and retailer while providing value to consumers. One thing this year’s Impact Merchants share is a vote of respect by their vendors. In today’s unpredictable retail environment, that vote really counts.

David LeClair, Associate DMM Merchandising, Staples

The office superstore retail channel found itself in an advantageous position as the COVID-19 pandemic struck the U.S., as restrictions to personal movement caused many consumers to become remote workers. David LeClair was one of the people who helped Staples meet the challenge of a suddenly changed market dynamic.

The coronavirus crisis dialed up demand for products consumers could use to develop or upgrade home offices, and, frequently, multiple home offices to outfit families for work and school. The benefit to Staples was twofold, first in sales and second in refamiliarizing consumers with the company, particularly online. Staples’ website and stores got a boost when consumers began scrambling to find home office product suppliers and, as they discovered that it remained open as an essential retailer, cleaning and other products vital to sheltering at home during the outbreak.

LeClair was someone suited for the circumstances because he actively takes input from suppliers and experts to use with his own close observations in making decisions, said a vendor. He is collaborative and listens to supplier input, asks questions effectively and shares information to help suppliers lend better support. In a market under the influence of the coronavirus pandemic, he remained aggressive in testing new concepts that keep the stores relevant, continuing to ensure Staples can present a relevant assortment and environment for the changing target customer.

Staples, with its recent Instacart deal and a new community-oriented store concept, needs buyers who have the wherewithal to weigh the needs of consumer, professional and small business shoppers as well as larger enterprises. With the company for more than a decade, LeClair brings to bear experience and consideration in degrees that support Staples initiatives and make him a 2020 Impact Merchant. —Mike Duff

2020 HomeWorld Business Impact Merchants (click on name for profile):

Jay Cunningham, T.J. Maxx/Marshalls

Adam Gregory, Target

Karen Rapier, Walmart

Elena Weckerle, Ulta Beauty

Ryan Yarnell, Meijer

Deb Danielson, Target

Sarah Dipietro, Macy’s

Jeff Branz, Wayfair

Taylor Martinez, Costco

Rachel Tsupros, Wayfair

Korey Reed, Walmart

Susette Johnson, AAFES

Becky Blake, Walmart

Gretchen Dexter, Everything Kitchens

David LeClair, Staples