Hardware Retailing

AUG 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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August 2017 | HARDWARE RETAILING 89 Tornado Sagona's Hardware Paincourtville, Louisiana D avid Sagona, owner of Sagona's Hardware, remembers the exact moment a tornado destroyed his hardware store in 2016. "3:24 p.m. That's when all hell broke loose," Sagona says. Shortly after, 140-mph winds from a 300-yard- wide tornado demolished his employees' cars, peeled off the store's metal roof and toppled its front wall. Tree limbs crashed through his store, and inventory became dangerous projectiles as he and his employees scrambled for safety. "They say you hear a freight train, but I heard 10 freight trains that day," he says. When the tornado passed, Sagona and his employees emerged to a hardware store in ruins. Put Safety First Sagona recommends that all business owners designate an emergency weather shelter before a disaster. He led his employees to an interior office on the building's first floor, but wishes he had made employees aware of severe weather protocol before it was necessary. His local weather forecasters suggested severe weather was a possibility that day, but Sagona says he didn't take the forecast seriously because tornadoes aren't common in Louisiana. In hindsight, he says he should have considered letting employees leave early, but feels lucky that no one at his store was injured. Take Your Policy to a Pro Sagona's insurance covered most of his property and merchandise loss, which amounted to roughly $1 million, but he recommends carefully evaluating your policies and even having a lawyer or trusted advisor review your policy before you sign. "With owning a business, I was getting pulled in a million different directions," he says. "I took the insurance for granted." Specifically, Sagona recommends making sure your business has replacement cost coverage as opposed to actual cash value protection. Replacement cost insurance calculates what your damaged items would cost to replace at current prices, whereas actual cash value insurance pays business owners the cost of what they paid for specific items, minus their depreciated value, which often results in a lower payout. His business insurance only covered certain employees' wages and only for a 90-day period, which forced Sagona to lay off all his employees as he began the long road to rebuilding the store. He hopes to rehire some of his 15 former employees when he reopens later this fall. Seize Opportunities Before the tornado, Sagona's Hardware also sold firearms and held concealed carry classes behind the store. In the months since the tornado, Sagona has leased an abandoned grocery store and decided to temporarily focus on selling firearms to keep sales flowing as he restocks hardware inventory. This fall, he and his team hope to reintroduce a full selection of hardware supplies and firearms and lease their new location to save money. As he restocks his hardware inventory, sales are "nowhere near" where they were before the tornado, but he's making the most of his new space. He's taking the opportunity to design a hardware store from the ground up and will be able to stock items he didn't have room for at his former location. "I bought this store from somebody, so now I can design it how I want to see it," Sagona says. He says that he thought about closing the store for good after the tornado, but is forging ahead. "I'm still young enough to get the business back up and rolling again," Sagona says. A tornado tore through Sagona's Hardware of Paincourtville, Louisiana, in 2016, destroying the store and starting its owner on a long road to recovery.

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