Hardware Retailing

MAY 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 | May 2017 108 Small-Scale Farmer and with some larger stores it can get "cookie cutter," Soh says. She prizes custom, unique and flexible ways of purchasing, and that's more easily accomplished at smaller stores. Retaining employees is also important. "Long-time employees have a historical reference of your farm and operation. To have an extra pair of ears that knows the store intimately, that will win me over," Soh says. "It's someone you can always talk to about your business. They'll say, 'You want this bolt, not that. You want to work the project this way.'" A small farm, by its nature, does more with less. That can often mean few workers on the farm, and sometimes Soh needs specialized skills to finish a job. A retailer that either employs or has contacts for tradesmen, such as welders, is a great benefit. "Those are skills that are fading, and we want to encourage people to seek those trades," she says. Partnerships She Values Soh partners with businesses and retailers that are willing to head out to the farm if the need arises. "It's a really great selling point for a business when they do that; it gives a stamp of approval that this is a community-based business that is contributing back into the community, so I should reciprocate," she says. Some hardware stores offer supplies and materials, and then partner with a group that has labor to build out a shed or improve a hiking trail. "Organizational partnerships foster what I call the "Cheers" effect. You want to know someone's name at a business, and customers want to be known," Soh says. "That culture is a lot harder to find at a big-box store. Any event that creates that environment, especially for a small-scale farmer, is one we want to get behind." Darrell's Directions: "Most small-scale farmers will have their own garden spots, so updating their garden supplies is a must. Retailers need insecticides and weed control for these customers, too." "Through our feed suppliers, we have contacts that would be difficult for a farmer to maintain. For example, a farmer may have a hay problem, like the horses aren't responding to the hay they are being fed. We can have that hay analyzed for its proteins see what is lacking. In this way, we provide a solution." "Our whole business is small-scale farmers. Where we can help them best is giving them access to features or services beyond their farms, while also having the products they need. For such a vital part of our business, it's important that farmers can walk in and get all of the supplies they need in one stop."

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