State by state Hardware All-Stars: Ark., Calif. and Colo.
For the second year in a row, Home Channel News bestowed “All-Star Hardware Store” status on one store in every state. Here are the picks for Arkansas, California and Colorado.
Yeager Ace Hardware
Fort Smith, Ark.
Free popcorn and lollipops are among the customer perks at Yeager Ace Hardware, a third-generation business, which now has four locations. “My dad (Ernest) always thought it would be neat to have a hardware store,” said son Ed Yeager, who bought the business in 1982. The original store was just 3,600 sq. ft. “We didn’t have an intercom, so if we needed something from the back, we just yelled,” said Deborah Clark, Ed’s daughter, who oversees two of the stores.
Crown Ace Hardware
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Jeff and Mark Schulein aren’t afraid to walk away from an acquisition or new lease if it doesn’t seem exactly right. Yet the father-son team now operates 17 stores, mostly in Southern California. San Diego is their newest territory, and the family — which has a “No shop talk on weekends” rule — sees plenty of opportunities to expand there.
Littleton Ace Hardware
This two-location dealer holds a “Grill Your Ace Off” barbecue contest each year where 25 teams with names like “This Flame is Not Yet Rated” vie for Ace gift cards. All grilling is done on Big Green Eggs, although the June 9 competition will introduce Webers. All proceeds benefit the Children’s Hospital of Colorado.
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.”