Stihl Hardware All Stars: Okla., Ore., Utah
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow in Oklahoma, where service and new ideas have helped sustain business at Ross True Value for more than 100 years. In Oregon, “Work hard. Play hard. Jo hard,” is the slogan of Joseph Hardware. And Utah’s CJ Do it Center does it all — LBM, paint, plumbing and more.
These three retailers are all part of the 2017 class of Stihl Hardware All Stars. Since 2011, HBSDealer has reached out to suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, vendors, retailers and homeowners in search of such high-performing operators. We found one in each of the 50 states. Here’s the skinny on the aforementioned trio:
Ross True Value
With locations in El Reno and Chickasha — the latter of which will turn 100 years old next year — Ross True Value combines core home improvement with farm and seed, and a willingness to try new ideas, such as a bridal registry. “It brings women into the store,” owner Tom Ross said. But the biggest idea is service, he said. “When the customer comes into Ross, they’re going to get service. And if you step up a customer to a better item, they’ll appreciate it in the long run.”
“Work hard. Play hard. Jo hard.” That’s the slogan unleashed by James and Leah Johnson when they purchased the hardware store in 2010. And when the couple converted a bowling alley into what is now their main location, the maple wood lanes were preserved as part of the store design. “This is a people game,” James said. “We never lose sight of that. It’s paramount to what we do. Every decision this company makes is predicated on that fact.”
CJ's Do it Center
CJ’s, of Price, is known for its strong mix of LBM, paint and plumbing. And check out what’s on the walls of this 81-year-old hardware store: In 2016, the store commissioned a local artist to create an in-store mural depicting several scenes and people that define Carbon County — a desert ranch entryway, several roughnecks, a welder and rancher. The mural has helped drive additional traffic, owner Rick Krompel said.
Westlake expands in Wichita
Westlake Ace Hardware finalized the acquisition of Indian Hills Ace Hardware in Wichita, Kansas. According to Westlake, the store will retain the Indian Hills Ace name, and General Manager Wayne Butterfield will remain at the store.
Personnel and operations will not be affected, the company said.
“Welcoming Indian Hills Ace Hardware into the Westlake family give us an opportunity to further deepen relationships with our customers in the area,” said Tom Knox, CEO of Westlake.
Westlake now operates 101 retail hardware locations in the U.S. and six in the Wichita area. The store is located at 2439 West 13th Street North.
The new store’s product mix runs the gamut, and includes fasteners, tools, paint, and plumbing and electrical supplies – as well as outdoor living and BBQ products, and a wide range of lawn and garden supplies. It also has a strong commercial business. In 2016, the Wichita Apartment Association named Indian Hills Ace the Best Supplier Representative. Commercial Manager David Pfaff and his staff will remain at Indian Hills Ace after the acquisition by Westlake.
Indian Hills Ace Commercial sells such products as HVAC equipment (including air conditioner condensing units and “packaged terminal” air conditioner units), GE and Whirlpool appliances, cleaning supplies, and other core products needed to help ensure smooth business operations.
Since 2012, Westlake Ace Hardware has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Oak Brook, Illinois-based Ace Hardware Corp.
Eye on retail: Best Buy’s vacuum center
A consumer electronics giant is making a move to grab some wallet share from the home category.
Starting in August, Best Buy is adding Dyson Demo Experiences — dedicated spaces that will let customers try out Dyson products. Approximately 90 Best Buy stores in the United States will feature the new interactive sections, which will be designed for shoppers to test merchandise.
These store-within-a-store concepts will range in size, from 40 sq. ft. to about 400 sq. ft. There will also be an enhanced Dyson experience on BestBuy.com, according to the retailer.
“Dyson is a technology brand, and the innovation they put into their products needs to be seen to be believed. It’s important for customers to see it, touch it, try it and ask questions about it,” Best Buy SVP of appliances Kevin Balon said in a company blog. “Our new partnership with Dyson checks all of those boxes, giving Best Buy customers the unique opportunity to try out their state-of-the-art products for themselves.”
The Dyson “shops” will also feature trained associates available to answer customer questions, lead product demos and help shoppers choose the right product. Hair dryers, cord-free vacuums and air purifiers are among the merchandise available.