Former Fleeger’s employee offers epitaph for a business
A posting on a message board of the Toledo Blade on the closing of Fleeger’s PRO Hardware reflected the challenges facing a small business in a down economy. It also shows one employee’s passion for the business.
The employee’s comment on his experience at Fleeger’s PRO Hardware appeared in a long stream of comments regarding the closing of the store. Here is the note in its entirety:
"As one who has worked for Fleeger’s for the last five years, I can give some insight on the value of my employer.
"About me: I have worked in corporate America most of my life. I was mainly, and still am a Fleeger’s customer at heart. I will miss the paycheck, to be sure. But what will I really miss? Our customers who come in with the latest jokes, my fellow employees who lift me up every day I come in, who are honestly invested in each other’s well-being and that of our Fleeger Family.
"Most of all, undeniably, I will miss working for a lady who treats employees with kindness, courtesy, warmth, humanity, generosity, offers great council in both business and our personal trials. Laura Fleeger-Koenig has been up front with us about the battles we faced as a company. She spent much time with our employees listening and helping get us ready for the inevitable closing. Laura has honesty and integrity.
"Customer satisfaction was priority number one, no question. It was ingrained in her by her father and uncle who started the business. We went out of our way to buy from local vendors whenever possible, and by way of our store newsletter we even promoted other local business — at no charge — only in hopes of helping each other out. In the end analysis, this may have been what cost us the war — our uncompetitive nature. But we won many battles along the way. We never lost the battle with the big boxes. We are competitive, we had to be. We lost the war due to changes in buying habits, a throw-away society, planned obsolescence, and mostly this severe recession. How many large corporations can say the same?"
Proud Fleeger’s Employee
No one is ever going to write
No one is ever going to write in similar fashion about their time at Big Orange, Big Blue, or the Scourge of the Midwest. Nice words about a fine company that actually knew something about serving the best interests of its customers.
End of the line for Fleeger’s PRO Hardware
Fleeger’s PRO Hardware — once a three-store Toledo, Ohio-area hardware chain — is closing its last remaining store after 65 years in business.
An article in the Toledo Blade quotes co-owner Laura Fleeger-Koenig: "In past recessions we’ve done better because people have been cutting back but fixed up their homes themselves. But that didn’t happen this time with the foreclosure issue."
Fleeger’s, which at one time operated three stores, closed a store in 1998 and closed its original store in 2009. The final store, now closing, is located on South Byrne Road, in Toledo.
The company’s Web site offered a good-bye message to customers, including a thoughtful final word: "Throughout our 65 year history, we have been driven to serve our customers and our community with the values passed down from the previous generations including integrity, honestly, hard-work, service, sharing of our knowledge, as well as our compassion for others in our community who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families."
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At True Value event, open casting
When True Value retailers assemble in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 20 to 22, the Chicago-based co-op will invite retailers to audition for its television campaigns.
According to Chris Taylor, True Value’s director of communications, the one-day-only open auditions for camera-friendly retailers will be among the highlights of the co-op’s market event. The retailers selected will play roles in the co-op’s national advertising campaign in 2012.
Also at the three-day market will be an increased emphasis on farm and ranch, Taylor said. While a small assortment of farm-and-ranch items was organized at the most recent True Value market in Philadelphia, the Orlando market will showcase a full-blown section with 90 vendors and 15 new product classes. Pet, equine and automotive will be among them.
"This is part of a longer-term strategy to help our retailers grow their businesses in new categories that are profitable," Taylor said.
The overarching theme for the event remains: "Winning at Retail," she added.
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