Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: a store is born

In 1999, Villager’s Hardware, a Home Depot project, hit the market.

BY HBSDealer Staff

The July 5, 1999 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, led with an in-depth look at the debut of Villager’s Hardware, under the headline: “Home Depot’s small format prototype enters competitive New Jersey market.

The East Brunswick, N.J., store measured it at 40,000 sq. feet in the site of a former Rickel home improvement store. And it was described as the most anticipated home improvement store opening to hit the industry in years. The store was the first of the home improvement giant’s  four-store concept test.

Leading the charge was Bob Wittman, Home Depot’s senior VP business development. He described Villager’s as a store “designed for the customer and geared toward a specific shopping occasion.” Highlights included:

  • A tool coral and a glass-enclosed, sound-proofed “Tool Demo Center,” for hands on demonstrations;
  • A Project Solutions Theatre, where 250 how-to videos were available for viewing;
  • A Cutting Center, for convenient cutting of chain, rope and panels;
  • A Moving Center, shipping products from dollies to bubble-wrap along with the services of a UPS mailing center in the store; and
  • Nearly 1,000 professional-looking how-to “Villager’s Advice” signs;

The store differed greatly from a Home Depot. (as different as a Maserati from a milk truck, wrote our editor, at the time.) Villager’s Hardware did not carry building materials. And about half of the store’s 37,000 skus were different from a typical Home Depot. Small appliances, pots and pans, candles, clocks and high-end storage were part of the hardware mix.

The Villager’s Hardware experiment ended in 2002, when Home Depot converted its four Villager’s Hardware branded stores into small-format Home Depot stores.

HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact <


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