Beacon Award

Best New Store Under 20,000 sq. ft. — Agricola Hardware & Lumber

Elliott and Brenda Massey nearly tripled the size of their retail space when they opened a new Agricola Hardware & Lumber store in Lucedale, Miss., in 2016.
Elliott and Brenda Massey nearly tripled the size of their retail space when they opened a new Agricola Hardware & Lumber store in Lucedale, Miss., in 2016.»

Their retail journey began in 1999, when the family purchased a rundown hardware and LBM store in Lucedale that had recently closed. “I was very adventurous when it came to business. I sold carpet, had a clothing store, mini storage units and 15 rental houses,” explains Brenda. “But when I opened up the doors to the hardware store by myself I thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ It was rough in the beginning.”

She adds, “We had an old loader and an old beat-up truck. We would put a load of blocks on the truck and then close the store to make a delivery, with the loader following the truck down the road. Every day it got better.”

Elliott left college in 2001 and got involved to help his mother run the business. “I had to learn the hard way. I didn’t know anything about hardware. And while I loved woodworking, I didn’t know lumber species,” he points out.

The two worked hard to revitalize the business but were held back by a 5,000-square-foot sales floor. “We just couldn’t grow at the old location. You are so limited on what you can carry with 5,000 square feet,” says Elliott.

Their retail journey began in 1999, when the family purchased a rundown hardware and LBM store in Lucedale that had recently closed. “I was very adventurous when it came to business. I sold carpet, had a clothing store, mini storage units and 15 rental houses,” explains Brenda. “But when I opened up the doors to the hardware store by myself I thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ It was rough in the beginning.”

She adds, “We had an old loader and an old beat-up truck. We would put a load of blocks on the truck and then close the store to make a delivery, with the loader following the truck down the road. Every day it got better.”

Elliott left college in 2001 and got involved to help his mother run the business. “I had to learn the hard way. I didn’t know anything about hardware. And while I loved woodworking, I didn’t know lumber species,” he points out.

The two worked hard to revitalize the business but were held back by a 5,000-square-foot sales floor. “We just couldn’t grow at the old location. You are so limited on what you can carry with 5,000 square feet,” says Elliott.

Store planners from Do it Best Corp. helped the Masseys plan the design and layout for the new store as well as an expanded merchandise mix.
Store planners from Do it Best Corp. helped the Masseys plan the design and layout for the new store as well as an expanded merchandise mix.»

A New Beginning

Do it Best Corp. has played an integral role in improving their business through the years and getting the new store up and running, according to the Masseys. “They are very hands on and they have a big interest in the success of your store,” says Brenda.

She adds, “Our Do it Best territory manager had been on us for 10 years to build a bigger store. I would say, ‘I’m getting older and I just don’t want to deal with all that.’ Now I have to say building the new store is the best thing I’ve ever done. If I had to do over, I would’ve done it 10 years ago.”

Working with store planners from Do it Best Corp., the Masseys ended up with a new 14,000-square-foot showroom that enabled them to expand existing core categories and introduce new ones like lawn and garden, farm and ranch, outdoor power equipment, flooring, appliances and paint.

Being able to provide a significantly better merchandise mix and depth of selection was only part of the equation for the Masseys. What they were particularly mindful of throughout the design and development process was not sacrificing the personal and unique experience each of their customers knew and loved about the business.

The design and layout of the new store and lumberyard reflect the Masseys’ desire to continue providing their “commitment to put service first.” The plan and execution were on target, as sales increased nearly 20 percent in 2017 in their first full year in the new location and were continuing to expand rapidly throughout 2018.

“We’ve gone way over our projections. It’s so amazing. We hit our five-year projection in the first year,” says Brenda. “Now having a second location is a goal, and I’d like to have another building for an onsite millwork and door shop.”

Adds Elliott, “We have basically doubled our customer count and sales. Our margins are slightly less, but that was purposeful to set a price image. We’ll start to raise those in another year or two.”

Plumbing, paint and electrical are the top-selling categories, along with LBM. The sales mix used to be 65 percent pro and now it’s 60 percent DIY and 40 percent pro.

“We’re set up more to appeal to homeowners now with doors, windows and appliances, but we also are attracting more pro customers with extra selection of long-length lumber that no one else has within 30 miles,” says Elliott.

He adds, “We try to do what we tell folks we’ll do. If I promise a delivery to a pro customer, then we have to follow through. We hire people for the sales floor who have outgoing personalities, so they feel at ease with customers.”

The store adopted The Color Bar, Do it Best’s new paint program.
The store adopted The Color Bar, Do it Best’s new paint program. »

Community Shows Support

About 1,200 people showed up for Agricola Hardware & Lumber’s grand opening on June 10, 2017, not bad for a town of 2,900. The grand prize giveaway was a zero-turn mower.

“Everybody in the community is overwhelmed and appreciative the new store is here. Now they don’t have to go outside the county to get what they need. We’re pulling lots of customers from adjoining counties,” says Elliott, who notes their location has a lot to do with their success. The store is located on the main highway that runs through town, with the nearest big box 45 minute away.

The Masseys stay involved in the community any way they can. They take the popcorn machine to the school and church for events and they do the cooking for teacher appreciation day. “We’re here to serve the community and let people know we care,” says Elliott.

Elliott and his wife Ashlyn have two kids—Karlyn and Mason—and the youngest, five-year-old Mason, has already become obsessed with working in the store. Mason will take customers to where products are in the store and he has a sharp word for his dad if something gets moved without him knowing about it. “Mason is definitely going to be the next generation running the business,” Elliott proudly notes.

“It is quite an honor to receive the Beacon Award, and we are proud of what we have been able to do with this store,” says Elliott. “We will keep looking for ways to get better and improve the business.” n Do it Best Corp. has played an integral role in improving their business through the years and getting the new store up and running, according to the Masseys. “They are very hands on and they have a big interest in the success of your store,” says Brenda.

She adds, “Our Do it Best territory manager had been on us for 10 years to build a bigger store. I would say, ‘I’m getting older and I just don’t want to deal with all that.’ Now I have to say building the new store is the best thing I’ve ever done. If I had to do over, I would’ve done it 10 years ago.”

Working with store planners from Do it Best Corp., the Masseys ended up with a new 14,000-square-foot showroom that enabled them to expand existing core categories and introduce new ones like lawn and garden, farm and ranch, outdoor power equipment, flooring, appliances and paint.

Being able to provide a significantly better merchandise mix and depth of selection was only part of the equation for the Masseys. What they were particularly mindful of throughout the design and development process was not sacrificing the personal and unique experience each of their customers knew and loved about the business.

The design and layout of the new store and lumberyard reflect the Masseys’ desire to continue providing their “commitment to put service first.” The plan and execution were on target, as sales increased nearly 20 percent in 2017 in their first full year in the new location and were continuing to expand rapidly throughout 2018.

“We’ve gone way over our projections. It’s so amazing. We hit our five-year projection in the first year,” says Brenda. “Now having a second location is a goal, and I’d like to have another building for an onsite millwork and door shop.”

Adds Elliott, “We have basically doubled our customer count and sales. Our margins are slightly less, but that was purposeful to set a price image. We’ll start to raise those in another year or two.”

Plumbing, paint and electrical are the top-selling categories, along with LBM. The sales mix used to be 65 percent pro and now it’s 60 percent DIY and 40 percent pro.

“We’re set up more to appeal to homeowners now with doors, windows and appliances, but we also are attracting more pro customers with extra selection of long-length lumber that no one else has within 30 miles,” says Elliott.

He adds, “We try to do what we tell folks we’ll do. If I promise a delivery to a pro customer, then we have to follow through. We hire people for the sales floor who have outgoing personalities, so they feel at ease with customers.”

Community Shows Support

About 1,200 people showed up for Agricola Hardware & Lumber’s grand opening on June 10, 2017, not bad for a town of 2,900. The grand prize giveaway was a zero-turn mower.

“Everybody in the community is overwhelmed and appreciative the new store is here. Now they don’t have to go outside the county to get what they need. We’re pulling lots of customers from adjoining counties,” says Elliott, who notes their location has a lot to do with their success. The store is located on the main highway that runs through town, with the nearest big box 45 minute away.

The Masseys stay involved in the community any way they can. They take the popcorn machine to the school and church for events and they do the cooking for teacher appreciation day. “We’re here to serve the community and let people know we care,” says Elliott.

Elliott and his wife Ashlyn have two kids—Karlyn and Mason—and the youngest, five-year-old Mason, has already become obsessed with working in the store. Mason will take customers to where products are in the store and he has a sharp word for his dad if something gets moved without him knowing about it. “Mason is definitely going to be the next generation running the business,” Elliott proudly notes.

“It is quite an honor to receive the Beacon Award, and we are proud of what we have been able to do with this store,” says Elliott. “We will keep looking for ways to get better and improve the business.”

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