2018 Stihl Hardware All Star — Camp Abbot Trading Co. (Oregon)
HARDWARE STORES

Service-oriented in Oregon, Idaho and Montana

State by state, meet the 2018 class of Stihl Hardware All Stars

BY HBSDealer Staff

It takes a little more to be a Stihl Hardware All Star.

Each year, HBSDealer solicits nominations from readers and the industry for Hardware All Stars.

And each year, we’re rewarded with a fresh class of high-performing, community-minded, service-oriented businesses worthy of the honor.

During the course of our research, we’ve met dealers who take risks, inspire staff and lift communities — or have what we call the All Star spirit.

Congratulations to all of the 2018 Stihl Hardware All Star honorees. Here’s three stars worth gazing at:


Oregon
Camp Abbot Trading Co.

This Sun River All Star named for the city’s original military base featured live reindeer in its holiday display last year. And that’s just one reason it was selected by Ace Hardware as one of four 2018 Coolest Hardware Store award winners. There’s always a lot going on inside, where half the store is a core hardware retailer, and the other half is a magical treasure hunt of general store merchandise. A Hallmark Crown store within a store boosts foot traffic.


Idaho
Caribou Jack’s Trading Co.

This Soda Springs based store was the inaugural winner of the National Hardware Show’s Reimagine Retail contest and its $100,000 store ops spending spree. Jack’s won over the judging panel with its vision of building an in-store café for hosting grilling and cooking events. In addition, the company will build an area for growing the produce used in the café. The company will also develop a mobile app to help groups coordinate events in the store.


Montana
Laurel Ace Hardware

The people who run this Yellowstone County All Star have been the subject of praise from Montana officials. In February, store manager Reece Gairett earned a Billings Gazette 40-under-40 award. And in April, owner Skip King received the Small Business Association person of the year award for the state of Montana. The store’s community outreach includes support of the Laurel Volunteer fire department, the local schools and the Laurel Christmas and July 4th parades. And in 2018, Laurel Ace hosted a parking lot Christmas tree fundraiser for the rotary club.

See the full Class of 2018 Hardware All Stars — presented by Stihl — in the May issue of HBSDealer magazine.

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2018 Stihl Hardware All Star — Sunshine True Value (Hawaii)
HARDWARE STORES

High performance in Hawaii, Alaska and Washington

State by state, meet the 2018 class of Stihl Hardware All Stars

BY HBSDealer Staff

It takes a little more to be a Stihl Hardware All Star.

Each year, HBSDealer solicits nominations from readers and the industry for Hardware All Stars.

And each year, we’re rewarded with a fresh class of high-performing, community-minded, service-oriented businesses worthy of the honor.

During the course of our research, we’ve met dealers who take risks, inspire staff and lift communities — or have what we call the All Star spirit.

Congratulations to all of the 2018 Stihl Hardware All Star honorees. Here’s three stars worth gazing at:


Hawaii
Sunshine True Value

This rural outpost in Hawaii, on the Big Island, has turned into a destination store for locals. “We’re almost like a general store, a catch-all for people — we are the closest thing to civilization for about one hour,” owner Jake Chilton said. In 2014, he surveyed customers on what they would like Sunshine to carry; Chilton responded by doubling the store’s footprint as part of a True Value Destination remodel, and added outdoor power equipment, lawn and garden and nursery. “It has been a really good transition for our business.”


Alaska
Eagle River Trustworthy Hardware

Here’s comeback story worthy of All-Star status. After opening in 2006, this small-town store 10 miles north of Anchorage was rocked by the combination of the financial downturn and a 2.5-year road project that choked customer access. Bankruptcy followed, but not defeat. After a seven-year break, co-owner Justin Phillips and his business partner have resurrected the store. “Now we’re making something happen here, and community support is huge,” he said. “It just goes to show: don’t give up.”


Washington
Jack’s Country Store of Ocean Park

Founded in 1885, this All Star is recognized as the oldest continuous retail operator in the state. Jack’s has paved a unique path to All Star status, combining a vintage hardware store appeal with a full grocery and a retail mix that serves its fishing and clamming community. The store invites customers to engage staff and challenge them with unusual product requests. “Friendly waters are frequently accepted and seldom lost,” the company says on its home page.

See the full Class of 2018 Hardware All Stars — presented by Stihl — in the May issue of HBSDealer magazine.

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National Hardware Show — Reimagine Retail program independent hardware stores
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The future is now for independents

BY Andy Carlo

Las Vegas — What would you do if you had a chance to upgrade your retail strategy with $100,000?

A panel of finalists for the Reimagine Retail program delivered their ideas during a discussion at the National Hardware Show.

Designed to help independent retailers succeed, last year’s prize winner Robert Lau shared how he used the prize to create a café focused on grilling and barbecue elements. Located in Soda Springs, Idaho, Caribou Jack’s Trading Co. just completed an overhaul and complete store reset to make room for the café.

Caribou Jack’s sells hardware, tools and sporting goods, along with farm and ranch supplies. Now the store has the sensory element of smell to go along with the visual brick-and-mortar experience.

“If you feed them, they will come,” said Lau, owner of Caribou Jack’s, which competes against several other independent hardware stores in his town.

This year, the contest focused on technology; and winner Matt Woods plans to implement same-day delivery to customers within a three-mile radius of each of the five Woods Hardware stores in the Cincinnati market.

At Woods Hardware’s downtown Cincinnati location, the company rents just seven parking spaces at a cost of $1,400 per month. It’s not an ideal situation for shoppers or the store. Getting in and out can be difficult.

“Our vision is to virtualize our store,” said Woods, president and CEO of Woods Hardware. “You can click a product, interconnect with us through e-commerce and get your product delivered in the same day.”

After learning his proposal had won the contest, Woods said his company is “ready to rock and roll.”

“Now we just have to hire the team to upgrade our systems.” Woods said. “With this prize, we can start taking steps to put our plan into action.”

Other finalists included The Color House in Wakefield, R.I. The paint and design retailer wants to create a rewards program using social media platforms. In addition to earning rewards for purchases, customers would also earn rewards for referrals, reviews and social media sharing. They would be able to see how close they are to their next reward, and those who engage the most would earn exclusive perks.

The Color House recently opened the e-commerce portion of its business.

“It allows my store to be open 24/7,” said owner Jean Hauser, who brought her background in fashion merchandising and interior design to The Color House more than two decades ago.

Just Grillin, located in Tampa, Fla., zeros in on outdoor living space design services along with grill sales. The company’s long-term plan includes a connected space to allow customers to actually see what their new living space could look like.

Through tablets, mounted TVs and voice-activated smart home assistants, the company will be able to take customers on a virtual tour of their proposed outdoor living renovations. In addition, Just Grillin plans to enhance its marketing approach and website to attract new customers to the in-store connected showroom, according to marketing manager Samuel Curtis.

“Technology does not play a huge roll for us right now but it needs to — that’s where everything is heading,” Curtis said. “We want to automate processes and make our location a destination store.”

Weeks Home Hardware operates four locations in southern Ontario, Canada. Owner Ron Cicuttini wants to use technology to track customers, install self-serve kiosks and build an e-commerce platform. Using an array of digital tools, the business seeks to understand how customers move and interact within the store.

The company also plans to use kiosks at the entrance of its buildings to give customers digital access to flyers and coupons.

“We really do believe if you are going to be successful in the future, you have to have brick-and-mortar and e-commerce,” Cicuttini said.

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