Stihl Hardware All Stars: R.I., S.C., Vt.

BY HBSDealer Staff

HBSDealer editors like to say: It takes a little more to be a Stihl Hardware All Star. The 2017 list of 50 hardware stores from 50 states supports that maxim with a tremendous variety of stores.

Since 2011, HBSDealer has reached out to suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, vendors, retailers and homeowners in search of high-performing, service-oriented, community-minded hardware stores, lumberyards or farm and ranch dealers worthy of All Star status.

It’s a tribute to this industry that each year brings a surplus of high-quality nominations. The companies profiled have earned their place on the list of 50 — and they join an elite fraternity of honorees. Here’s to the class of 2017. And here are our representatives from Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont.

Rhode Island
McQuade’s Ace Hardware
McQuade’s Ace Hardware isn’t necessarily the same exact store that locals grew up with in Westerly. Last year, it was completely remodeled from top to bottom, with major investments in its Stihl OPE offering and big name brand selection, such as Valspar and Weber. The McQuades also expanded some of the specialty products they’re known for carrying, like camping goods, kayaks and Boy Scout items. When it comes down to it, however, VP Mark McQuade — the owner’s son — says it’s about knowledge and customer service. “[Our strength lies in] having the right people to do the right jobs,” he said. “My average employee has been here for almost 10 years.”

South Carolina
Heuser Ace Hardware
Heuser Ace Hardware may have only opened its doors just more than a year ago, but it was already named “Best of Bluffton” in the hardware and home improvement categories for two years running, and it also doubles as a full-service bike shop, which sells bicycles that are made in the United States to the active local community. The 12,000-sq.-ft. downtown destination is also frequented for its selection of plants and bird feeders. More than anything, Heuser takes its training seriously: the store is staffed by an expert with a Ph.D. in horticulture, two master gardeners, a master electrician, and a master plumber. Plus, associates are required to pass a robust training certification.

Martin’s Hardware & Building Supply
You can tell a lot about a store by its homemade Facebook videos. And at Martin’s Hardware & Building Supply, with stores in Bristol, Middlebury and Brattleboro, the operative word is “fun.” Quirky, but fun. Same goes for its radio spots. “What makes our stores special are the people that work for us,” said Kathleen Clark, co-owner. “We love our community.”

See the full class — presented by Stihl — in the May issue of HBSDealer.


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HBSDealer Stock Watch: another up-and-down day


It was a mixed day on Wall Street, however home center retailers Home Depot, Lowe’s and Lumber Liquidators all ended the day in positive territory.


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Regulatory Wrap-Up

Regulatory Wrap-Up: Wages and taxes lead the Wrap-Up



Kansas City, MO: The voter-approved $15/hr. minimum wage will begin to phase in four days (Aug. 24) before a recently passed state preemption law goes into effect; however, a previously enacted preemption law remains in effect for Kansas City and all other municipalities other than St. Louis (a judge struck down the law’s applicability to St. Louis). City officials have stated they will not enforce the new $10/hr. requirement during that four day period and reaffirmed that a state preemption law remains in effect. 

Paid Leave

Michigan: The Michigan Board of State Canvassers gave approval to Michigan Time to Care’s paid leave constitutional amendment. The group can now begin gathering petitions. It has 180 days to collect over 300,000 signatures. The initiative would require businesses to allow employees to accrue one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked with a cap of 40 hours of paid leave per year. 

Washington: The paid leave funding legislation passed earlier this year mandating weekly paycheck contributions by both employers and employees is currently in the rulemaking process. Multiple public hearings are being held during the month of August with public comments due by Sept. 1. 

Albuquerque, NM: Opponents of the paid leave initiative are exhausting all legal options in an effort to remove it from the October ballot, appealing their case to the state supreme court. Ballots must be mailed to residents by Aug. 28, placing the legal challenge under significant time constraints. The initiative would apply to all businesses with a physical presence in the city and mandates that employers provide at least seven days of paid leave to employees. 


ACA: After the failed effort by Congressional Republicans to repeal the ACA, the IRS is reminding employers that reporting requirements remain in effect. The agency recently announced that it plans to enforce the employer requirements. To date, the IRS has not imposed any penalties even though the reporting rules have been in effect for two years. 

California: A California Assemblyman is working on legislation to raise the state’s corporate tax rate from 8.84% to 9.84% for companies with 500 or more employees. The new revenue would be dedicated to building affordable housing. While a bill has not yet been officially introduced, this issue is likely to dominate the policy discussions when the legislature returns later this month. 

Menu Labeling

New York: The New York City Health Department agreed to delay enforcement of the menu labeling requirements from Aug. 21 to Aug. 25 to allow negotiations with the affected business community to continue. If no agreement is made, the judge in the case brought by the NRA and NACS seeking to delay the city ordinance is expected to rule on an enforcement timeline by Aug. 25. The city law conflicts with the federal law which does not go into effect until May 7, 2018. Additionally, that law affects a larger pool of businesses. Under the NYC ordinance, foodservice establishments that have 15 or more locations nationwide must disclose calorie counts and other nutritional information as well as post a statement about the daily-recommended caloric intake. 

Labor Policy

Labor Day Activism: Each Labor Day, unions and labor advocates celebrate the history of the labor movement, and press coverage around the holiday often focuses on the state of organized labor and ongoing union campaigns. The Fight for $15 campaign, for its part, is collecting petitions to highlight the positive impact of unions. 

North Carolina: The Governor signed a new law creating an office to investigate employers who may be misclassifying workers as independent contractors to avoid providing benefits and paying taxes. 


OSHA: In light of a potential security breach, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced it was deactivating a recently launched electronic portal for employer injury reporting. The Trump Administration had announced a delay in enforcement of the Obama-era rule requiring employers to report injuries via the portal, but OSHA instead launched the portal in July and some employers had already begun utilizing it. 


NIST: The National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal agency responsible for setting numerous standards including for cybersecurity, issued a draft revision of a special report outlining security and privacy controls for information systems. The report provides a catalog of operational protocols intended to protect all types of computer platforms including general purpose computing systems and internet of things devices from hostile attacks, natural disasters, human errors and privacy risks. The draft revision is open for public comment through Sept. 12. 


NAFTA: Trade officials from the U.S., Mexico and Canada concluded the first round of NAFTA renegotiation talks and scheduled the second round Sept. 1-5 in Mexico. The joint press statement released this week focused on positive first steps and restated a commitment to a quick conclusion of the talks. All parties are seeking conclusion prior to domestic campaign seasons — U.S. midterm elections and Mexico’s presidential election. Behind the scenes, tensions were high as the U.S. ruled out minor tweaks and restated its intent for a full renegotiation. Issues such as rules of origin for auto parts, dispute-resolution systems and labor standards will be among the more challenging negotiations. 

South Korea: US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced an Aug. 22 special session of the Joint Committee under the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) to be held in Seoul. This marks the beginning of U.S.-initiated discussions regarding the efficacy of the free trade agreement as well as concerns over market access and the growing trade imbalance. 

Japan: Following President Trump’s withdrawal from the Pacific Rim trade deal, the U.S. is engaging bilaterally with many of the countries that were partners to the TPP deal. The USTR announced an agreement with Japan to accelerate trade discussions. A day after the announcement, the U.S. raised concerns about tariffs on U.S. beef. No specific timeline of discussions was released. 


Texas: The controversial bathroom bill supported by the Governor and senate leadership failed to pass the house during the special session which adjourned this week. 

Key Takeaways

  • The President’s unfortunate remarks over the past week have isolated him politically. His ability to drive outcomes on business community priorities has been incredibly diminished. Corporate leaders will need to refocus on Capitol Hill and work to build consensus among House and Senate leadership to proceed with tax reform and other issues important to operators.
  • The income inequality narrative took a new turn this week with legislation under discussion in California that would increase the corporate tax rate for “wealthy companies” to subsidize the construction of affordable housing. Similar to the CEO tax in Portland and the millionaire’s tax ballot initiative in Massachusetts, advocates continue to devise new taxes, capitalizing on the income inequality theme and driving an anti-corporate measure.
  • The business community defeated efforts in Texas to pass a bathroom bill modeled off of the North Carolina bill. It’s a notable victory given the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and many members of legislature were vocal supporters of the legislation.

Legislature Status for Week of 8/21/17

  • The United States Senate is in recess with pro forma sessions every 3 days until Sept 5
  • The United States House is in recess with pro forma sessions every 3 days until Sept 5
  • Ten state legislatures are currently in regular session: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.


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The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.




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On Friday, the Trump administration ramped up its trade dispute with China, announcing $50 billion in tariffs. What is the most likely outcome of this move. (Choose up to 3)