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Stars shine in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa

State by state, meet the STIHL Hardware All Star class of 2019

BY HBSDealer Staff

The tradition began in 2011, when Home Channel News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, recognized 50 Hardware All Stars — one hardware store, home center or building supply dealer from each state. The tradition continues in 2019, with an all-new class of STIHL Hardware All Stars.

It’s a class as deserving of recognition as any that preceded it.

The 50 stores here represent all that is stellar in home improvement retailing. To varying degrees, they support local and national charities, experiment with merchandising and store design, differentiate themselves from competition, invest in their facilities and their people, and generally serve their communities like All Stars.

Here are three examples of All Star performance with three dramatically different business models:

J.C. Licht True Value
Chicago, Ill.
“We pay for quality help, we give them benefits, they make a great living, and that’s the difference.” Those are the words of Elliott Greenburg, president of J.C. Licht, one of the nation’s largest Benjamin Moore dealers. Here in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, J.C. Licht experimented with a unique store that combines a pro-oriented paint operation with a modern, bright, convenience hardware store with an upscale flair. A 24-space parking lot – a rarity in Chicago – takes convenience up several notches. [This HBSDealer profile of J.C. Licht appeared in January.]

Akard True Value

• Akard True Value
Zionsville, Ind.
Leigh Ann Akard’s grandfather established the family business in 1955. Today, this 2019 True Value “Best Hardware Store in Town” honoree successfully conveys vintage Hoosier hospitality in its strip mall setting. “We do a lot more than hardware,” she said, summing up a business model that leans heavily on “shoppertainment” and niche items — wind chimes and lake-house décor, among many others. The atmosphere is reminiscent of a little village and vacation town, one customer says. Annley the greeter dog keeps things friendly.

• Huffman’s Farm & Home
Fort Madison, Iowa
The automated telephone message describes services such as a custom hydraulic hose facility, a welding shop and small engine repair – that’s the legacy of the company founded as Huffman’s Welding & Machine in 2002. Now with three stores (one in Illinois), Huffman’s Farm & Home plays the role of all-star retailer and community servant. “We’re very community-minded,” said Holly Howard, marketing director. “Not only in our product offering, but in our donations and giving back.” Case in point: the annual Huffman Scholarships to young part-time employees and children of existing employees.

Click here to see the full class of 2019 all stars.

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