By Chris Jensen
After building numerous regional Pizza Hut restaurants, the Eiserers decided to buy in and they found themselves running 17 of them. But by the spring of 2016 the couple realized that franchisee ownership just didn’t feel right anymore. At the same time, their local lumberyard was for sale and about to be shuttered. Cecil knew that losing it would not only be a big loss for his own company, but a huge loss for their community, too.
“We didn’t want to lose the lumberyard for the community. We were in the process of ending one deal, so it was good timing,” Cecil explains.
Cecil and Sharona Eiserer are developing Wood Shed Lumber & Hardware into a strong, sustainable business that can someday be passed on to their kids (from l to r): Cicily, Porter and Novah. »
Wood Shed Lumber’s new 12,000-square-foot store replaced a tired 2,000-square-foot lumberyard that was on the verge of closing.»
The Eiserers decided to buy the struggling lumberyard. They felt they would need to make some drastic changes to their newly acquired business, because they both strongly believed that Carrollton deserved a modern hardware store and lumberyard experience.
“We went to the Do it Best market in May 2016 before we owned the business. Everyone there had a smile on their face,” Cecil says.
Adds Sharona, “When we met the Do it Best family, we were sold—they were welcoming and like a family from the beginning. We were blown away.”
Designing the Best Store
Digging deeper into survey data conducted by Do it Best, Sharona realized there was plenty of interest from DIYers and that the existing 2,000-square-foot store and the accompanying lumberyard were simply too small and uninviting to shoppers.
They enlisted the help of Do it Best’s Store Design and Retail Performance teams to completely reinvent the business. They boldly reimagined the new Wood Shed Lumber & Hardware Supply, building a brand new 12,000-square-foot retail home improvement store facility from the ground up and turning the existing yard into a full-service, drive-up lumberyard.
Sharona leads by example to ensure her team of 17 employees helps customers the best they can.»
The highly visible paint department has been an integral part of the store’s mission to attract more female customers.»
“We told Do it Best we didn’t want the store to be a cookie cutter,” says Sharona, who chose brown, gray and copper hues to make a cohesive color theme throughout the store.
Wood Shed Lumber & Hardware Supply opened in January 2019 and was an immediate hit with the community.
From the reclaimed wood accents to the custom scorched enhancements and stain on barn doors throughout the store, Cecil’s construction expertise is on display. They used tin ceiling tiles removed from an old shed in the lumberyard to retain a little history of the business and repurposed an antique wooden farm wagon to display products. A local wood carver crafted an eye-catching sign. It’s clearly not a cookie-cutter store.
“We went with wider aisles, added shopping carts, installed better lighting,” says Sharona. “It just feels different. It feels like you’re going into someone’s home and it’s very inviting.”
The store focuses on delivering personalized service to pro and DIY customers. »
She adds, “I didn’t realize we were exceeding expectations. The feedback we got is we can’t believe this is here in Carrollton. Now customers have everything they need right here. We didn’t want to give people a reason to shop elsewhere.”
Sharona also recognized an opportunity to attract an underserved customer base—women. “It took a while to get women to come into the store,” she says. “Then we built the new building and put in housewares and lawn and garden and expanded paint and now they come in and bring pictures and say this is what I’m working on.”
They held a month-long grand opening that included a ladies night event. Practically every category they sell has recorded significant growth. That’s mainly due to Cecil’s motto—”If you don’t have it, you can’t sell it.”
The business, which reopened as Wood Shed Lumber & Hardware in January 2019, was an immediate hit with the community.»
Becoming a One-Stop Shop
Cecil and Sharona bought the lot across the street from their new store and transformed that into Wood Shed Outdoor Power & Rental, which opened in March 2021. The 7,200-square-foot building features a large showroom featuring STIHL power equipment, Gravely mowers, Traeger and other grills, patio furniture and YETI. Another large space features their expanded rental inventory and roomier service bays.
Moving rental across the street freed up space inside the main store, which was used to expand into major appliances, showers, countertops and flooring. “The entire shopping experience is evolving, making Wood Shed a one-stop shop for our customers,” Sharona says.
Cecil and Sharona purchased the lot across the street and turned that into Wood Shed Outdoor Power & Rental, a 7,200-square-foot showroom featuring power equipment, grills, outdoor furniture and rental inventory.»
The Eiserers’ investment in the new store is showing great returns. From the time they closed on the purchase of the lumberyard to just before the grand opening of the new location, sales more than doubled from $900,000 to $2.5 million.
After adding appliances, 2020 store sales surpassed their expectations at over $5 million. Sharona says 2021 got off to a solid start and she was confident that the new rental business would help them exceed those numbers. “Our growth has far exceeded our expectations and pro forma,” she points out.
An antique wooden farm wagon is used to display products in the new showroom for outdoor power equipment, grills and rental.»
Adding more stores is a definite possibility, especially as their three (soon to be four) kids get older and more involved in the business. “This has always been a family deal,” Sharona says. “We’re one of the few businesses in town that hires 15-year-olds. We can see talent and grow them in responsibility.”
Their kids—Porter, 14; Cicily, 10; and Novah, 4—are featured in the store’s radio ads and their pictures can be found on billboards. Family photos are displayed prominently in the store to show the business is run by a family, not an impersonal chain.
Winning the Beacon Award has turned into the icing on the cake for the Eiserers. “It truly surprised me to be nominated in such a small town. It’s definitely an honor to receive such an award. It means we’ve worked hard and hard work pays off, and it gives the kids more inspiration,” Cecil says.
Adds Sharona, “It’s humbling and exciting to see our hard work and commitment to the community be recognized.”