The Art of the Dealer

You meet some interesting people in the home improvement industry. Here’s another one: Jared Littmann, the 41-year-old youth sports coach; lawyer; Annapolis, Md., assemblyman; owner of K&B True Value in Annapolis; and — most recently — True Value board member.

Littmann spoke to HCN just before the K&B True Value Hardware Art Show (see it at opened its doors.

HCN: Tell us about the art show.

Littmann: A group of local artists came to me saying they had artists who want to participate — they love our store. They get most of their supplies from our store anyway, and they said they would market the show for us. The art hangs from the aisles and endcaps, sort of blends in with the regular merchandise.

All I had to do was open the doors and maybe sell some things to people. It was, obviously, not a hard decision from my standpoint.

HCN: Events are big at K&B?

Littmann: We’ve come to do more of these events in the past few years. We’ve started a ladies’ night about six years ago. We’ve done an Earth Day event for at least six years. We also did our first family-and-friends event last week. We gave each of our employees 15 invitations, and we had a nice turnout — 50 to 100 customers came in. I would describe it as “festive.” Other stores have been telling me how I need to try it, so we gave it a go. Sales were actually fantastic.

HCN: You’re in the ultimate Navy town. Do you get a lot of business from Midshipmen?

Littmann: Less than you would think. [The Academy is] extremely close, but they have their own store on campus. That said, the support staff around the Naval Academy is huge, and that helps us.

HCN: You’re in local government, and you’re in local business. Which is harder?

Littmann: They certainly both have their challenges. But retail, I’m quite certain, is harder. In both, you have a diverse audience and customer base. In retail, I wake up every day thinking that there’s no guarantee that customers are going to show up. And if they don’t show up, bills don’t get paid.

HCN: And now that you’re a co-op board member, do you have anything to add to what we read in the press release?

Littmann: It’s a huge honor. I’m very grateful to the True Value board for selecting me. I view it very similarly to how I view my ultimate work. I have a set of experiences and education that hopefully lends itself to a different perspective. I find it rewarding when I hear: “I haven’t thought about it from that perspective.” That’s my goal. What value can I add to the boardroom? We all have an important role of being a part of the company and being a part of the growth message.

“In retail, I wake up every day thinking that there’s no guarantee that customers are going to show up.” — Jared Littmann, K&B True Value

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