Hardware Retailing

OCT 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 | October 2017 52 Diverse and Alike In order to meet the needs of the varied customer base, DeShong says his hiring strategy is to look for people who are similarly varied. The store currently has 11 employees, including DeShong and Usnik. "We really like to have a diverse staff, and we try to find people who come from different backgrounds," DeShong says. "We find the right people by asking our customers, especially our contractors and maintenance customers, if they know anyone who is looking for work." DeShong says having a mix of employees helps satisfy any preconceptions—whether accurate or not—that customers may have about who they want to see working in the store. "Customers like to see people who look like them," DeShong says. "Some women may be intimidated if the store is all men. Some young people may be intimidated and feel like they don't know anything if it's all older people. And older people come in and think all the young people don't know anything, and they want to see an older face." DeShong says the store's Spanish-speaking customer base isn't large, but it is consistent, with at least one customer per day coming in who prefers speaking Spanish. DeShong and another employee are interested in learning the language to create an environment where Spanish-speaking customers are comfortable. DeShong has spent time in Mexico, which piqued his interest in learning Spanish, and he has taken language classes in Philadelphia. "We recently hired a team member from Peru who can help us with Spanish-speaking customers," he says. "We have quite a few customers who are accustomed to having Spanish-speaking assistance, so we keep a Spanish hardware dictionary at the register that has all the hardware-specific words in it." DeShong and his team also rely on the customers to help them learn. "There are so many dialects, and sometimes the word for a tool in one dialect doesn't mean the same thing in another, so we ask them to point to what they need so we can learn." DeShong says learning and speaking Spanish in the store isn't something he feels obligated to do, but it's a way to show customers they are welcome and to celebrate the differences in the neighborhood. As part of his store reinvention, DeShong developed regular cleaning and organization tasks to keep the store primed for customers. His staff fronts and faces products and notes empty spaces on the shelves when there are no customers who need assistance. " There are so many dialects, and sometimes the word for a tool in one dialect doesn't mean the same thing in another, so we ask them to point to what they need so we can learn. " —Steve DeShong, owner, 10th Street Hardware

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