New hardware store opens in central Maine
The new storeowners Mike and Debbie Staples said they hope their business helps to fill a need in their town.
Hardware store profile: Wolfinger celebrates 90 years
Litchfield, Mich.-based Wolfinger Hardware was already going strong for 25 years in 1945 when Arnold Gerberding approached then-owner Weldon Wolfinger with the idea for Hardware Wholesalers Inc., now known as Do it Best Corp. In fact, Wolfinger had been talking to neighboring hardware store owners about forming a hardware co-op of his own.
“My father and a couple of other hardware dealers in the area started talking about a co-op purchasing back in the 40s,” said Harold Wolfinger, Weldon’s son and current owner.
“Then Arnold Gerberding, who started HWI at the time, came knocking on the doors with the same concept and asking for some money to get started with. And that’s where my father got into it. Dealer No. 26,” he said.
The younger Wolfinger, 66, started in the family business in 1967 and is celebrating his family business’s 90th year in hardware retailing.
Over the years, the store has seen itself transform from an 800-sq.-ft. storefront, to a 2,500-sq.-ft. location.
“For a small town we’ve been able to keep our head above water and hang in there,” he said.
Wolfinger Hardware serves a town of about 1,300 and relies heavily upon the local industry for much of its retail sales, what Wolfinger calls “front door.”
“We do get a large share of our front door retail traffic from the industrial base we have here,” he said. “Our industrial base through this last 18 months has stayed. We have not lost a manufacturer, which I think is a really good deal since so many other communities have. Ours have only come back stronger.”
The hardware store also operates its own contracting business, which Wolfinger equates to “back door sales.”
In fact, the contracting side of the business has been integral to Wolfinger from the beginning, when the store served windmills and offered roofing services. Now, that contracting business is mainly plumbing, heating and air conditioning and mechanical.
“Its probably about 30% to 35% of our total business,” said Wolfinger, who’s son Mathew is a licensed master plumber and operates much of the store’s contracting business.
Wolfinger said the contractor side of the business also directs some of their in-store inventory.
“Because of our contracting business, we are able to inventory a whole lot more in the plumbing and heating line of fittings and accessories, which draws trade to us also. People come here because they can find those things,” he said.
But Wolfinger still caters to the local DIY community as well. After all, he’s the only game in town, with no other hardware stores, and the nearest big box just shy of 20 miles away. And whatever sales are made at the big boxes, Wolfinger said he gets a little bit of business there too.
“You have the Saturday shopper who went and bought the toilet or the bathtub and did not know he needed all the other things to go with it, so then he’s in here,” he said.
“It’s a small town, we carry all the basics. Just the old nuts and bolts hardware, I would say. You still can buy two screws from me, you don’t have to buy a package,” he said. “I had an elderly customer tell me the other day, ‘Well if Wolfinger don’t have it, and the grocery store don’t have it, then I guess I don’t need it.’ ”
Carlsbad approves Lowe’s and Palomar Commons
The Olympic Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., closed its doors for good in 2008. In its place will rise a 153,974-sq.-ft. Lowe’s, the city announced last week.
Carlsbad has given the green light to Palomar Commons, a development on the site of the old resort that in addition to a Lowe’s will also include a gas station, a car wash, a bank with drive-through and four retail shop buildings totaling 31,270 sq. ft.
Palomar Commons will fill a gap in the marketplace identified by a recent market analysis, which showed that residents currently need to drive outside the city to find major home improvement type stores, the city said. The center will have a Spanish-Mediterranean architectural style with natural colored stucco and tile work.
"This project really addresses a gap in goods and services available to our local community," said Gary Barberio, the city’s director of community and economic development. "We’re taking an under-utilized site and turning it into something that will serve the community’s needs and provide tax revenue to fund local services."