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Hardware Store All-Stars: Georgia and the Carolinas

BY HBSDEALER Staff

HCN congratulates the 50 hardware store, home center and farm and ranch retailers who made the annual HCN Hardware Store All-Star list.

Now in its third year, HCN’s annual list of high performers recognizes hardware stores — one from each state — that are outstanding in their field. The complete list and analysis can be found in the September issue of HCN. Meanwhile, HCN Daily will work its way across the country with mini profiles, continuing this week with North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

North Carolina: It might be miles away from home for many, but Zoller Hardware is a destination hardware store by design. Located in the mountain resort town of Cashiers, Zoller’s shelves are stocked with the requisite hardware offerings as well as gifts, housewares and cabin decor. Indeed, many of their products are hard to come by elsewhere in the region, which makes Zoller Hardware an essential stop for campers and locals alike.

South Carolina: Seneca’s Tri-County Ace is in it for the community, and that entails everything ranging from its yearly back-to-school program to its neighborhood-specific product assortment. Part of a chain of six stores serving the tri-county area of upstate South Carolina, the Seneca store bills itself as a contractor hub and features a full-service lumberyard and a builder-friendly product selection. 

Georgia: Since we’re dealing with superlatives, suffice it to say that Intown Ace Hardware in Decatur, Ga, was named one of Ace’s "Coolest Stores on the Planet" this year. Its atypical customer loyalty stems from its top-notch customer service, likable staff, sprawling garden center and unexpected gifts assortment (many of which are locally made).

Next week, HCN will highlight All-Stars in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. For the full state-by-state list of HCN Hardware Store All-Stars, click here.

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Ace increases revenues but plateaus on income in Q3

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Ace Hardware Corp. released its third-quarter earnings report today to the generally positive results of 8.9% growth in revenues since 2012, but more of the same in terms of income.

The hardware cooperative netted $1.0 billion in revenues for the third quarter, an increase of $84.4 million over the same quarter in 2012.

Meanwhile, net income came in at $34.4 million, little changed since 2012’s figure of $34.3 million.

“We’re pleased with the growth at both wholesale and retail in the third quarter,” said John Venhuizen, Ace president and CEO. “Retail same-store sales in the U.S. were up 6.9% for the quarter and stand at 4.4% year to date. We continue to invest heavily in retail initiatives to help fuel growth for our local owners and that growth, in turn, is propelling the corporation.”

Venhuizen also noted the launch of the Paint Studio Initiative during the third quarter, which will revamp paint departments across 3,000 Ace stores by May 2014 as part of the company’s strategic partnership with The Valspar Corp.

The company cited the December 2012 acquisition of WHI Holdings Corp., as well as the sale of its paint manufacturing assets to Valspar, as factors impacting the comparability of its 2012 versus 2013 earnings reports. As of Sept. 28, the Ace balance sheet includes $67.7 million of WHI inventory, $19.1 million of property and equipment, $23.0 million of goodwill and other intangibles, and $23.9 million of WHI acquisition debt.

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Hardware Store All-Stars: Maryland, Delaware and Virginia

BY HBSDEALER Staff

HCN congratulates the 50 hardware store, home center and farm and ranch retailers who made the annual HCN Hardware Store All-Star list.

Now in its third year, HCN’s annual list of high performers recognizes hardware stores — one from each state — that are outstanding in their field. The complete list and analysis can be found in the September issue of HCN. Meanwhile, HCN Daily will work its way across the country with mini profiles, continuing this week with Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

Maryland: Dunkirk Do it Best Hardware & Home Center has the kind of competitive advantage many mom-and-pops would kill for: It exists in a big-box-free region due to county zoning ordinances that preclude large national retailers from setting up shop. In a sense, that lets owners Jim and Ashley Weaver off the hook a little, but they manage to step up to the plate with an extensive, comprehensive product offering to rival that of any sprawling home center, spanning 19,500 sq. ft. With customers finally getting their needs met, the store realized $100,000 in sales its opening weekend — allowing the Weavers to open two other locations.

Delaware: If there were ever a case for patronizing independents, Fairfax Hardware in Wilmington certainly builds a strong one. Many of its loyal customers shop there on principle thanks to stellar customer service (and staff wearing ties!), even if the big-box down the road carries a minor discount. The independent, family-owned business is one of the only stores of its kind in the area, and having been around since the Fairfax community was built, it’s said to actually carry many original parts and hardware from that era. 

Virginia: Randy’s Do it Best Hardware now prides itself on its three locations throughout the state of Virginia, but the business owes a lot of its success to its savvy use of social media (that’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). Such is the level of engagement with its community that a special deal announced on Facebook will get customers driving in from reaches far and wide. To demonstrate its appreciation, Randy’s sports a colorful mural of the town on the street side of its building.

For the full state-by-state list of HCN Hardware Store All Stars, click here.

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