Readers Respond: Struggling in South Carolina
“The last four years have been tough for the building community, especially the smaller, family-run stores.
“It has been hard to deal with changing bank regulations after you have been in business more than 30 years, and everything as you knew it has changed. We have watched many of our friends go down, both competitors and customers. We are still standing, but every day is a challenge.
“As we read about the South Carolina folks and talk with folks around the United States, we know that we are not alone in our everyday fight. I think that some of the suggestions for diversification in the store were good, and use of email and Facebook. We will continue to follow the story and wish them success in whatever way the story continues.”
— Sandy and John Bencsik
Building America, one purchase at a time
By late 2008, Mike Petro had seen enough. It was, for many, the height of the financial mess in this country, marked by bank failures, mortgage crisis, and bailouts; in his view, the financial structure of the United States was teetering on the brink.
“Middle-class workers were taking out home equity loans to pay bills because they were maxed out on their credit cards; their 401(k) plans were shrinking,” Petro said.
In his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, he said, six General Motors plants closed, jettisoning thousands of mostly middle-class workers.
Petro said something needed to change. In response, he and business partner Dennis Cunningham drew plans to create the All American Store, where every item sold would be made or assembled in the United States.
“We wanted to create a company where people came to a central location and bought products made by Americans at American-made companies,” Petro said.
It took well over a year for Petro to compile — and vet for authenticity — the list of manufacturers who could supply an 8,000-sq.-ft. store in Brookville, Ohio, with everything from nails and screws to blue jeans. “It was a difficult search,” he said.
The first All American Store opened in April 2010. There are now two locations in Ohio and business is good, Petro said.
"We are very unique in having only U.S.-made products," Petro said. “Every time a customer comes into our store and purchases a product, we say, ‘Thanks for buying American; we’d like you to know you are supporting fellow Americans.’ ”
Though the All American Store has a wide variety of items, one constant is its “Made in the USA” label, which supports Petro’s goal of building-up the country’s work force. "We are here for the American workers, for the families they have to support and for the communities in which they live, in the greatest country in the world."
Since starting his venture, Petro has garnered a great deal of favorable attention. He said one story attracted 20,000 hits to the company website, allamericanstore.us, within a 72-hour span. “The business definitely has grown in the two years — it makes you feel good,” he said.
Petro’s goal is to have The All American stores in every U.S. state and to eventually take the company public. “We’re getting inundated with requests for franchising opportunities,” he said.
Petro said if efforts like his can retain or create jobs in the United States, “I think we can impact the quality of life of the everyday person of this country. That’s the whole focus of this company.”
Lowe’s to open second store in Saskatchewan
Home improvement retailer Lowe’s is moving ahead with its Canadian expansion, planning a new store for Blairmore, a city near Saskatoon, according to an article in the Star Phoenix. The will be Lowe’s second store in the western province of Saskatchewan.
Blairmore developer SmartCentres has applied to the city for a zoning amendment to reduce the required number of parking stalls required for a home improvement store. Alan Wallace, manager of planning and development with the City of Saskatoon, said SmartCentres has not told him who is coming.
"They just say it is a large format home improvement store," said Wallace.
But city councillor Ann Iwanchuk confirmed that the retailer will be Lowe’s.
Saskatchewan’s first Lowe’s store opened last September in Regina. It has a 103,000 sq. ft. footprint with an additional 3200 sq. ft. garden center. There are currently 16 Lowe’s stores in Canada.