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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HARDWARE RETAILING | March 2017 70 Stotler's plan was to rent and rehab a 3,000-square-foot retail space that stood empty next to the hardware store, and turn it into a stand-alone paint store. In addition to having nearly three decades of experience selling paint, he had a working relationship with a wide customer base throughout the city. After setting up the paint store, he would pick up the phone and call his former customers to invite them to his new store. Given Stotler's experience in the industry, the Meinecke brothers decided to give the plan a try. Designing a Store for the Pro Stotler knew that to attract the professional painter, he would need a store that catered to their needs. "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," he says. "They want specialized treatment. When I worked for a specialty paint store, I would listen to my customers complain about what they didn't like about going to the average hardware store to buy paint. I knew I had to create a store that avoided those issues." First on the list was assembling a group of experienced employees who were dedicated to the paint department. Paint employees must be able to paint, mix, match and troubleshoot. "You have to invest in people, people who are dedicated to the paint department and won't spend half of their time working somewhere else in the store," he says. Paint customers who don't get the answers they need and can't find the products they want will go somewhere else. The other big complaint Stotler often heard from his pro customers was that they don't like to be treated like just another retail customer. "They don't want to walk through the middle of a crowded store to get their supplies, and then stand in line with retail customers," he says. Stotler says a paint store should have a separate checkout counter and entrance dedicated to pro customers so they can get in and out quickly without having to wait behind slower retail customers. He says those customers also usually demand a discount structure comparable to other paint stores—not only are they buying more paint than traditional retail customers, but they also require less time from a sales staff. At Village Paint & Design, Stotler could offer everything his customers wanted, and where the pros shopped, retail customers would soon follow. A Hybrid Store While there are plenty of merits to having a stand-alone paint store, there are even more to adding in other core hardlines categories. "Our latest store is more of a hybrid," says Stotler, who is now the operations manager of paint sales at Village Paint & Design. "I call it a hardware store inside a paint store." One event at Village Paint & Design involved a paint vendor based in the Wisconsin area seeking feedback from painters on one of its products.

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