Nothing easy about All Star performance
All Star performance is easy to describe – all you have to do is keep the shelves stocked the shelves with in-demand products at competitive prices and back it all up with quality customer service. And at the same time, continue to adapt to the changing habits of modern customers while serving the community above and beyond the norm.
The trick is in the execution.
The 2016 HBSDealer All Star project, like many before it, has been designed to recognize this type of retail excellence and execution.
After a months-in-the-making review of nominations from vendors, distributors, manufacturers and retailers themselves, the class of 2016 has been identified. (See the digital issue here.)
The 50 hardware stores, lumberyards and farm-and-ranch dealers selected for the honor have achieved recognition in 50 different ways – but a common thread is great customer service. Highlighted here are three all-stars
Florida: Celebration Hardware Company
The A+ website merits an award of its own, but this quickly growing retailer (it opened in 2012) is garnering a large presence in Orlando – a place with many diverse needs — despite its less than 2,000 sq. ft. of retail space. “We reside in a community that was built by the Walt Disney Company, and our community is made up of a diverse and growing group of people from all over the world. Our commercial clientele ranges from local realtors and property managers to large hotels and resorts,” said VP Marc DaCorta. “In sum, our store is special because of the ‘people’ we depend on.”
Georgia: Vickery Do it Best Hardware
Though owner Susan Harlan has been in the home improvement trenches since she was a child, she lends her visual arts education to the operation of her hardware business, which has displayed the work of local artists during an after-hours gallery. Its community involvement has also brought in handmade soaps from a local artisan, local honey, handmade wooden bowls and handmade wallets by an 11-year-old entrepreneur. Plus, there’s a free community library attached to the store. “Our goal is to provide the best customer service, in a neighborly, comfortable atmosphere,” she said. “We want to be a place you want to visit.”
Hawaii: Haiku Hardware & Garden
As the only independent hardware store on the island of Maui, Haiku Hardware is there to cover the bases for local residents, and with prices that are more competitive than the big boxes. “We’re out in the sticks, so we’re the only game out here,” said owner Judy Baerg. “It helps the community, because it’s kind of a bit of a drive to get to anyone else.” Given its agricultural surroundings, jokes Baerg, sometimes the store is referred to as a “garden center with some hardware.”
A dispatch from Louisiana
It's been a stressful time for Louisiana. The Red Cross has deemed the recent flooding the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy, with preliminary estimates of damaged homes topping 60,000.
John Holmes of Baton Rouge-based Holmes Building Materials found some time to report back to HBSDealer on business conditions at his store, but not all Louisiana dealers suffered the same fate.
For instance, Baton Rouge-based State Lumber experienced the flooding firsthand, getting about 8 inches of water in the store and some flooding in the lumber outbuildings, according to Do it Best spokesperson Randy Rusk.
Holmes' Baton Rouge location stayed dry, though the Livingston Parish location sustained water damage in the main warehouse area from 12 to 36 inches of floodwater. Additionally, a bulk storage area at the location flooded with 36 to 48 inches of water.
The biggest challenge so far, says Holmes, has been staffing. The store was able to open the Monday after the storm with a limited staff, but 51 of 125 team members were directly affected.
"Last week was a zoo," said Holmes. "Do it Best has been able to ship a [disaster truck] almost every day to us since the flood to restock the stores. Our retail business continues to be very brisk, but our pro business is almost at a stand-still. Most of that is weather and labor with all the demo work going on."
Holmes said the store finally got back to full staff this week, and they are currently looking to hire roughly 15 new team members.
"Most of our best pros have a plan to be involved in the reconstruction with their own customer base and will venture out to new customers if they can manage," he added. "Our normal builder builds [between] 10 to 50 homes per year, so they each have a long list of potential repair customers on homes they have built in the near past."
Who will win The Indie?
For a sixth year, Independent We Stand will hold The Indie Awards, drawing attention to the importance and strong economic benefits of “buying local”
The web-driven contest gives consumers the opportunity to acknowledge businesses that impact their communities and grow their local economies.
“The Indie Award gives consumers a voice for their communities,” says Bill Brunelle, co-founder of Independent We Stand. “Year after year, we see nominees that go out of the way to make their customers happy and their communities better places."
The award is open to all types of businesses. In 2013, a New York hardware store took home the prize — Trio Hardware of Plainview proudly sponsors local sports teams and a high school robotics team, as part of its community-focused approach to retail.
The winner of the 2016 Indie Award will receive a prize package valued at $10,000, which includes:
• $5,000 grand prize;
• $1,000 STIHL equipment certificate. STIHL products are sold exclusively through local, independent servicing dealers and support more than 9,000 STIHL dealers in communities nationwide;
• “Small Business Web Starter Package” from independent web design firm – The Meridian Group;
• Three days/two nights stay at an independent beach resort in Virginia Beach, Va. (valued at $1,000);
• Plaque to display at winner’s business;
• Public relations and social media recognition; and
• Quarter and Semifinalists will receive a Premium Membership from Independent We Stand.
Online voting will begin in September.