Hardware Retailing

MAR 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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Page 72 of 106

HARDWARE RETAILING | March 2017 68 How did they make that happen? Village Ace Hardware got serious about selling paint. While not every independent home improvement retailer may be positioned to dedicate a full store to a single category, the story of Village Ace Hardware's fast track to the top of its paint market has plenty to show everyone about what it takes to be successful in this rewarding category. Beginning of Growth Today, there are multiple locations in the Village Ace family of stores: three full-line hardware stores; two Village Paint & Design specialty paint stores; Village Outdoor Living, a store specializing in outdoor power equipment; and the Hunter Douglas Gallery store, which specializes in window coverings. They are all situated within a short drive of each other in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area. Most of that growth happened within the past decade. Brothers Jim, Mike and Mark Meinecke are second-generation owners of Village Ace, a store their father, Jim, purchased in 1954. Not long after they took over the business about 10 years ago, the brothers purchased a second hardware store. The family had built a solid reputation in the community and a strong business, and now they were ready for new opportunities. That's when a former employee of a competitor approached them with a proposal. Tim Stotler had been in the paint sales industry for most of his life when the specialty paint store he was working for closed. "I was really just looking for a job," he says. "I approached the owners of Village Ace, one of my former employer's competitors, and told them they had a tremendous opportunity to grow their paint business." The inside of the newest Village Ace Hardware blends a full-service paint and design store with a complete hardware store so paint customers can pick up any extra items they might need for their projects. " I know my customers don't like walking into a place where they're not sure if they will get an employee who knows about paint. " —Tim Stotler, Village Ace Hardware

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