Sales and customer counts in 2019? Compared to the previous year, we’re probably down about 1 percent. It’s all weather related. However, customer counts are up over last year. With low interest rates, the housing market here is still strong and lots of building going on.
What are you doing to attract the next generation of customers? We’re promoting our online presence through Ace Hardware. We promote all three of our stores on Facebook. We try to post at least once a week, and if there’s a major event, we post more. We try to get as many likes as possible. To do that, we run contests, giving away a $25 gift certificate. Our most popular social media posts are when our garden center opens in the spring. We’ll take cool pictures of flowers and that seems to get people to the store.
Best niche categories? We do a lot of business with Milwaukee power tools. Our store is also a big Benjamin Moore dealer. We have a strong rental department with rototillers and trenchers in the spring. We have a small engine repair center that complements our big inventory of small engine parts. We also sell a lot of Weber and Traeger grills.
New initiatives for 2020? We’re looking at improving inventory control and becoming more present online and in social media and with Google search. This year, we’re also looking to expand our battery-operated lawn and garden tools.
Tennies Ace Hardware
Kewaskum, Jackson and West Bend, Wis.
Sales and customer counts in 2019? We’re about 4 percent ahead of last year. But customer counts, feet in the door, weren’t up. What’s happening now is a resurgence in ordering online. People don’t have time. Ordering online is easier. The local economy is fair. We see a lot of people coming up for weekend, second homes.
What are you doing to attract the next generation of customers? Having a website and online ordering is helpful. We also have a warehouse 10 minutes away, so customers can order and pick up in-store the next day. People just don’t have time to come into the store, so we’re making it as easy as possible. We think of ourselves as a brick-and-tech organization.
Best niche categories? Paint and housewares are our strongest niches. With niches, I believe it’s important to show customers that you’re an important player in the business, not dabbling. To support our paint department, we have televisions in the store showing what can be done with Benjamin Moore paints. With Ben Moore and local painters, we have seminars once a month. People want to be informed; they don’t want to be sold. I see the store’s role as being part of that process.
New initiatives planned for 2020? We are continuing with our educational series once a month. We’ll also be expanding into services, such as knife sharpening and sharpening commercial grinding wheels.
Majestic’s Hardware | Gardiner, N.Y.
Sales and customer counts in 2019? Sales were about flat during the past year. Customer count is up 1 or 2 percent. Business is picking up. The local economy has been very good. My store is located on the side of town that was rundown, and the city is starting to do things in this area now. My business is improving a little bit every year for the past three four years. It’s been steady and the town is growing.
What are you doing to attract the next generation of customers? We really haven’t taken any steps. We’re trying to build up what have here now before looking at younger people.
Best niche categories? We’re known for selling nails and bolts by the pound and selling grass seed in bulk. We don’t sell anything boxed; everything is loose.
New initiatives for 2020? We plan on expanding the lawn and garden and plumbing departments. Those look to be the highest-growth areas. We’ll be adding a wider line and deeper inventory in both of those departments.
Beaty Hardware | Cleveland, Tenn.
Sales and customer counts in 2019? We’re up about 6 percent. We have a good local economy. I attribute the increase in sales to our product selection and service. Here in Emory, we rely on farming and ranching. There’s been a lot of construction going on with new housing builds and people building additions to their homes.
What are you doing to attract the next generation of customers? We try to keep a good website to let them shop online. We also have a Facebook page. I don’t know if we’re doing a good job reaching younger customers, but the people coming in the door have a good age range.
Best niche categories? We’re strong with outdoor power equipment and offer a lot of Echo and Stihl. We also offer commercial mowers with the Cub Cadet line. We are big with sporting goods, guns, knives and ammo. We’re right between two lakes, so we have a lot of sportsmen customers. We also have housewares and home decor, with a lot of vacation homes nearby.
New initiatives for 2020? For the most part, not much new. We’re just trying to perfect what we’re doing and stay up with trends and freshen the product selection. We do want to do some employee training, and are fixing to upgrade our point-of-sale system within the next three or four months.
Hooten’s Hardware | Emory, Texas
Sales and customer counts in 2019? We’re up maybe 3 percent. We’re not a typical hardware company. We’ve been here 80 years and are known as a local department and hardware store. We have 150 employees in our four stores and have built a solid reputation in the community. One of our stores is a 140,000-square-foot store that has a broad selection, clothing and lots of things beyond hardware. The economy in the tri-cities area is up dramatically. There’s a lot of growth around here, because people are moving from the Seattle area because of the costs.
What are you doing to attract the next generation of customers? That is a real tough one. The main thing is to be in stock at all times. We want to keep the inventory balanced, so when a shopper comes in we have the right sizes.
Best niche categories? We’re extremely strong in sporting goods and strong in men’s clothing, work boots and shoe lines. We have a complete toy department.
New initiatives planned for 2020? We are looking at two more locations. We’re really positive about this area. We still think that even though everybody is going online and ordering, when you need a garden hose you’ll go into the store to buy it. And for shoes and clothing, people want to try it on.
Pasco, Richland and Kennewick, Wash.