Tum-A-Lum Lumber’s Pendleton, Ore., store will start a second century next year with a beautiful new building that has injected excitement in the community.
When TAL Building Centers (recently rebranded from TAL Holdings) converted a former car dealership into a reimagined version of Tum-A-Lum Lumber, the company boldly stepped into the future of retail hardware store design. As an opposite to any cookie-cutter store look, the Tum-A-Lum design has won high praise within the hardware industry and has proved to be a tremendous success among customers in Pendleton, Ore.
A fifth-generation, family-owned business, Vancouver, Wash.-based TAL Building Centers has focused on customer experience at their 32 locations in the Pacific Northwest, each tailored to the communities they serve. Such community spirit was especially important for Tum-A-Lum Lumber, the company’s new flagship store in Pendleton. “The family has been in this area for a long time, and it was important to bring that sense of community with us into the new store,” says TAL Marketing Director Katherine Cornelius.
Inside, the most striking feature of the store is a 1,000-square-foot design center. With a sleek, contemporary look, the center showcases cabinets, countertops, doors and windows.
NEW LOOK, DIRECTION
Serving the community since 1924, the original 2,000-square-foot Tum-A-Lum store in Pendleton was beginning to show its age.
“Aisles were small and items were crowded, so it wasn’t an ideal shopping experience and it didn’t fit our customers’ needs,” Katherine says. “We saw an opportunity to expand our reach in this community and relocating was the best way to do that.”
TAL sought a customer-centric design it calls placemaking—a people-inspired approach to creating a space where customers want to come in, stay and work with the Tum-A-Lum team.
Tum-A-Lum added a full-service paint center with four aisles featuring Rodda and Miller paints, both popular Northwest brands.
The store layout is emphasized by bright LED lighting, easy-to-read wayfinding and end caps with side paneling that minimize visual clutter.
“We didn’t hire someone who just designs lumberyards, because we wanted to push the boundaries,” says Billy Cornelius, TAL’s director of property, facilities and asset management, who oversaw the Pendleton construction. “We wanted a non-traditional way of presenting hardware. We want our hardware stores to be an experience.”
The new Tum-A-Lum building process involved about 36 months of negotiations with contractors, securing permits from the city and converting the car dealership and 4.5 acres and existing building into a hardware store and lumberyard. In February 2022, Tum-A-Lum Lumber opened the doors to its 10,000-square-foot home center.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Located next to the town line, Tum-A-Lum placed a welcome to Pendleton sign on the property. Once opened, the store welcomed customers with a whole new retail hardware experience, too.
The Tum-A-Lum building exterior boldly displays word clouds of the store’s expanded assortment. The new store also offers plenty of parking and easy access to the covered lumberyard. Inside, the most striking feature of the store is a 1,000-square-foot design center. With a sleek, contemporary look, the center showcases cabinets, countertops, doors and windows.
“We want to make the design center a destination,” says Billy.
With more room in the new store, Tum-A-Lum added a full-service paint center with four aisles featuring Rodda and Miller paints, both popular Northwest brands. The store layout is emphasized by bright LED lighting, easy-to-read wayfinding and end caps with side paneling that minimize visual clutter. The framed end caps provide a consistent, architectural look, and the side panels include names and icons of products down each aisle.
Large windows at the front of the store allow in plenty of light and create a welcoming visual as customers enter the store. This area features elegant wood slats that offer views of millwork displays in other areas of the store.
Connecting to the company’s long service to its community, the store displays many large historic photos, like the Tum-A-Lum delivery truck depicted behind this contractor sales desk.
The service counter was moved to the front of the store, so each customer can be greeted with a smile. The base of the front counter recreates the previous location’s exterior signage.
CUSTOMERS, HISTORY UNITED
Tum-A-Lum Pendleton’s customer base is about 70 percent contractor, so the store was designed with a dedicated pro sales center that includes multiple desk spaces where contractors can spread out plans.
Katherine says the shift in store design has been praised by long-time, regular contractor customers. “Now that we’re in this much bigger store, the pros know we can partner with them on larger jobs and they take us more seriously,” she says. “Plus, lots of builders are bringing in customers, talking about plans and shopping more. The new store has changed the perception of us in the community in a big way.”
Another striking change with the new design: The service counter was moved to the front of the store, so each customer can be greeted with a smile. The base of the front counter recreates the previous location’s exterior signage.
While the fresh look provides a new energy to the space, TAL Holdings wanted to preserve the near-century old company history, so they included some signage from the previous location, such as an old logo made in cedar that is now above the new Pendleton store’s paint center. Throughout the new store hang enlarged historical photos of the previous location. For example, in the contractor area, a large historic photo of a Tum-A-Lum delivery truck is on the wall.
The family is thrilled that their investment in the new store has paid off with award-winning design. From left to right: Billy Cornelius, Katherine Cornelius, Bill Cornelius, Susan Cornelius, Adam and Teresa Halverson with kids Rainier and Zooey.
Sales have increased 45 percent year over year since the reopening.
NEW DESIGN BENEFITS
Tum-A-Lum Pendleton celebrated their grand opening on April 1, 2022 with a VIP night and ribbon cutting that attracted a thousand people. The new store has had a big impact on the community and on the company’s bottom line. Sales have increased 45 percent year over year since the reopening.
TAL coordinated the new assortment planning with their distributor Do it Best, which helped provide assortment advice for the biggest addition, the lawn and garden department with an exterior garden center and nursery. It’s paid off: The category has seen a 146 percent increase in sales and a 265 percent increase in transactions since its debut. Cabinetry category is another area that’s experienced tremendous growth since its inclusion within the new Tum-A-Lum design center.
These customer-friendly designs are also a way that TAL competes against online retailers. “For hardware stores, ecommerce is both good and terrible for our industry,” Billy says. “The challenge is convincing people to get off the couch and come to the hardware store. That means thinking about how we engage the community. We solve problems for customers with not just materials but services.”
For TAL Building Centers, the solution includes connecting with customers through multi-functional spaces. For example, not only can customers shop for lawn and garden products but also drop by the design center or millwork displays to experience the services Tum-A-Lum provides.
“We’re trying to encourage customers to come for more than one reason,” Billy says. “We want to give our customers a place to call home. When someone looks at Amazon or Walmart, they might be able to find a similar tool or fastener. But we’re so much more than products on a shelf.”
“Our goal is to have a positive impact on our community, and to have industry peers acknowledge reshaping and changing the lumber-building materials shopping experience is flattering and an honor,” Billy says. “We have received many awards through the years, but this is the first one for the family, for the family business. This really means a lot.”