New hardware store opens in Malibu
Malibu Hardware and Masonry Supply has held a soft opening and will offer a limited assortment of lumber to residents of this famous beach town, according to a story in the Malibu Patch.
The business, which is planning a grand opening in the fall, is owned by Malibu resident Dave Anawalt. The Anawalt family operates three home and garden centers in the West Los Angeles and Hollywood areas.
"We are selling a little hardware, nursery [items], garden redwood, things to make planters out of, building materials, cement, drywall, masonry [supplies] and ‘a little bit of lumber,’ "Anawalt told the Patch. He said his initial focus would be on masonry supplies because the previous tenant used the property as a masonry yard.
Anawalt originally tried to buy Malibu Lumber when it closed in 2005 but was outbid by a partnership that developed the site into the Malibu Lumber Yard mall.
Handy Hardware’s major milestone
Back in 1961, a group of 13 enterprising hardware retailers pooled together a cool $13,000 to open a warehouse in Houston.
Their goal was to join together in the collective support of the independent hardware store operator. It’s a concept that continues today at Houston-based Handy Hardware Wholesale, which will be celebrating its Golden Anniversary at its Fall Market later this month in San Antonio.
Much has changed. But much has stayed the same.
“Our core mission will be to continue serving the independent hardware store retailers,” said Mickey Schulte, VP purchasing and marketing for Handy. “We’ve learned over the years to service independent-minded dealers. And we’re blessed with a lot of those kind of people in our markets.”
While many of the co-op’s 1,300 or so dealer locations are in rural areas, big cities are part of the mix, too, and Schulte said there’s no reason why the model can’t work anywhere.
“We have territories where we support many rural dealers, but we’re also in two of the largest metroplexes in America — Houston and Dallas.
While the co-op has grown well beyond its Texas roots, it maintains a Southern character and expertise. “We’ve refined our inventory over the years to tack care of some of the unique characteristics of our regions,” Schulte said. “Marine products, hurricane prevention items, these are important to us.” He added. “It doesn’t hurt to have a Southern accent.”
Of course, with the addition of a new distribution center in Meridian, Miss., points East and North are considered fair game. “The key to our growth is our Meridian distribution center, as we move East and gain the ability to grow business efficiently,” Schulte said.
Ten years ago, on the occasion of the co-op’s 40th anniversary, Handy went in search of the original 13, with confusing results. It seems an overlapping entity called Handy Hardware Stores introduces uncertainty. But Houston-area dealers such as Werner Hardware, Martini Hardware and South Park Hardware were among the original founders.
“The special spirit and deep loyalty of Handy members today can be traced directly to these founding fathers,” read the Handy newsletter.
Based on profiles of Handy retailers in this special section, the same can be said today.
Woodson Lumber, small-market powerhouse
As Handy Hardware celebrates its 50th anniversary, one of its Texas hardware and lumberyard dealers is preparing for its 100th.
Seven-location Woodson Lumber, based in Brenham, Texas, operates in the small towns in the economically diverse Dallas, Houston, San Antonio Triangle. The chain was founded by HP Woodson in 1913, and today is run by his granddaughter Ann Chapman.
A slow evolution over three generations of ownership has brought the company to its current mix — two locations focused on contractor business and five others focused on what president and COO Craig Blum describes as “very small town, rural, repair-and-remodel, farm-and-ranch, agri-related” customers.
“We carry a little bit of everything, and we’re willing to try a little of anything,” Blum said. The retail evolution continues across the company. Most recently, Blum pointed to an expansion of Woodson’s farm and ranch assortment, adding Nutrena and Purina to its staples of wire and hardware. It has expanded its gift, housewares, and lawn and garden departments. “Things to help decorate your home a little bit, inside and out,” said Blum, who has been with Woodson since “the day I walked out of high school” in 1975.
Since about that time, Woodson has been with Handy Hardware as its hardware supplier. (Blum served on the Handy board from 2000 to 2008.)
“The other thing we’ve done, on the business side, is we have focused our buying in two ways, one with Handy Hardware and the other on the commodity side through LMC,” he said. “We have relied on those two to do their job, so we can focus on the customers and our markets. And there hasn’t been a whole lot that they haven’t been able to provide.”
As Woodson has grown, Handy’s in-house team and RDMs have helped guide the company’s new store design and planograms in Lexington (pop. 1,500); Buffalo (pop. 1,800) and Groesbeck (pop. 3,500.)
Blum said there’s always been somebody to talk to at Handy. “From our regional district manager, the buyers, management and [president] Tina Kirbie, we’ve always known people we could turn to, and never felt that we wouldn’t get a call back and get a problem addressed,” he said.
“We’re close enough that if we needed to, we could get in a car and go talk to them, but we haven’t had to do that,” Blum said.
Like most dealers who aren’t tied to the success of tract builders, Woodson feels somewhat insulated from the tough economy. “When there is little building, you have to shift to the repair and remodel guy,” he said. “And our walk-in business has been very good, even in this downturn in home building.”
The company slogan: “Where You Matter.” Emphasis is on the “You,” said Blum. And that service focus is typical of the Handy membership, he noted.
“They want to have an independent hardware distributor, and they want to maintain their independence,” he said.