By Doug Donaldson —
Colville Henery Hardware has assembled a deep, experienced staff who can answer any customer question, and associates believe that every minute spent with a customer is an investment.
For Colville Henery Hardware in Colville, Wash., both purchasing and sales were oddly simple during the pandemic: If a product could be put on the shelves, customers would snap it up. Now, with fill rates near pre-pandemic levels, customers have greater choices and are shopping around again.
Manager Aaron Zadorozny (right) and Assistant Manager Patricia Smith take pride in the depth and breadth of the plumbing and electrical department assortments at Colville Henery Hardware, viewing it as one of the store’s differential advantages.
During the pandemic, fill rates for some distributors dipped as low as 40 percent. By the end of 2022 and into 2023, distributors’ fill rates have bounced back. For example, this past spring, Do it Best President Dan Starr said that fill rates were above 90 percent, and the Fort Wayne, Indiana-based distributor has set a goal of 97 percent.
For independent home improvement retailers looking to capture consumers in the post-pandemic shopping environment, service, employee knowledge, assortment planning and merchandising can make the difference, especially in core categories such as plumbing and electrical.
Since plumbing generates 40 percent of sales at Colville Henery Hardware, a dominant assortment is available to meet the needs of homeowner and contractor customers.
Solid to the Core
After Matthew and Tara Henery purchased Colville Hardware in 2022, the four-store company revamped its assortment and merchandising. Primarily a do-it-yourselfer destination, Colville Hardware serves about 90 percent DIYers and 10 percent contractors. Plumbing, alone, is 40 percent of Colville Henery Hardware’s business.
A few years ago in the electrical department, Colville Hardware brought in a new 24-foot planogram for switches and sales increased 30 percent.
Colville Hardware, about 90 minutes north of Spokane, Wash., has a deep commitment to helping every customer get it right the first time, especially plumbing projects. Employees ensure that each customer has the correct parts, tools and advice to finish their projects, according to Aaron Zadorozny, store manager. Often, Colville Hardware employees will spend much time detailing steps of the project for customers.
Staff at Colville Henery Hardware are trained to ensure customers get everything they need for their plumbing or electrical project in one trip.
With merchandising and assortment planning assistance from Do it Best, Colville Hardware has a robust 16 feet of just toilet repair products, eight feet of SharkBite plumbing products along with another eight feet of crimper tools and accessories and four feet of cold expansion fittings and tubing. The store also has the largest local selection of kitchen and bathroom faucets with a 24-foot linear run of those products.
Colville Hardware is always bringing in new products. Staff members have learned to be responsive to customers and are often able to offer multiple solutions for repairs or projects. With a full assortment for just about any do-it-yourself project, Colville Hardware works to establish long-term relationships with customers.