HCN selects state-by-state Hardware Store All-Stars
The 2012 crop of Home Channel News Hardware Store All-Stars marks the second year of the state-by-state accounting of high-performance retailers. The common theme of “excellent customer service” runs through the entire list, but that’s just the beginning.
Here are the first three on our alphabetical listing:
Hopper Building Supply
“We have a little bit of everything,” said owner Mike Hopper, whose family started the business more than 50 years ago. By “everything,” he means building supplies, gasoline, deli meats, bakery goods and even a Laundromat. “We’re known as a one-stop shop for everyone.” The Hopper family owns several other businesses in town, including Mike’s dad, who operates a Foodland supermarket next door to the building supply company.
Andy’s Ace Hardware
How many hardware stores make their own fudge? The 10-ft. gourmet candy counter at this Anchorage store features a changing roster of 15 flavors. Customers also come in to avoid the long lines at the U.S. post office or to sign up for a cell phone plan at its RadioShack franchise.
Prescott True Value
There aren’t many contingencies between new brides and senior citizens, but Prescott True Value, located in a retirement community, registers an average of 16 bridal couples each spring and summer. The fine china and kitchenware department brings them in, but everybody loves the 12 linear ft. of gourmet foods and the large selections of unusual kitchen gadgets.
Retailers share their secrets of success at NHS
Las Vegas — Four successful hardware and home center operators spent an hour on the Village Stage at the National Hardware Show on May 2 sharing their challenges, strategies and future plans with other event attendees. Ranging in size from three to 36 locations, the dealers varied in scope and location but shared common approaches to customer service, the vendor community and pricing.
One of the largest dealers in the group, Rocco Falcone of Rocky’s Ace Hardware, operates 33 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Florida. The family-owned operation has been in business for 85 years. “We service the hell out of our customers,” Falcone said. “The big boxes say they’re going to give good service, but they really don’t.”
Doug Gregory from Morrison Terrebonne Lumber in Louisiana spoke of the special handling his pro customers receive. “Our contractors are very dependent on our guys to help them run their business,” said Gregory, who recently partnered with CNRG. When asked about common misconceptions about his business, Gregory mentioned the perception that smaller independents charge higher prices.
Others agreed. “Our staff also believes that, so I get them out to price shop other stores,” said Ron Cicuttini, who represented three Home Hardware stores in Ontario.
Scott Parker, owner of 18 home centers primarily in Texas, pointed out that his outdoor lumberyards aren’t air conditioned, which lowers his cost of doing business. “We can be very competitive [on price],” he said. But Parker pointed out the necessity of variable pricing and the many factors that go into it.
“What we want to sell a product for is determined by the market, not what we want to sell it for,” Parker said.
All the retailers gave a shout out to their vendors, co-ops and distributors. “If you’re really loyal to your suppliers, they’ll reciprocate,” Cicuttini said. “That’s paid dividends for us.”
Cash mob offers help to Newtown Hardware House
A cash mob recently filled the aisles of Newtown Hardware House in Newtown, Pa., to help bail out the store, which has been suffering from the weak economy for four years, according to an article on Philly.com.
Owner Dave Callahan has been running the store for 27 years.
Local publicist Andy Smith’s organized the cash mob with a Facebook message that read: “Each ‘mobber’ is encouraged to spend about $20, although you can spend more if you wish. With spring here, there has to be $20 of stuff you need for around the house — grass seed, a tool, paint, etc.”
Facebook, Twitter and email helped spread the word.