Hardware Retailing

DEC 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 52 of 70

HARDWARE RETAILING | December 2017 48 W hen considering a new building for its Ellsworth, Kansas, location, Home Lumber and Supply had some specific needs that had to be met. One was an increase in size, both for the salesfloor and warehousing space. Another was a more trafficked area to increase the store's visual appeal and ability to bring in drive-by business. Even when a location that fulfilled all of these requirements became available, corporate sales manager Hervey Wright says the Home Lumber team approached the situation with caution. In the end, Wright's, Home Lumber CEO John Humphreys', yard supervisor Roy Hoffman's and store manager Brandon Rohr's caution paid off with an improved Ellsworth location that achieves the company's goals. "At our previous location, the local staff grew demand dramatically, but we were out of space. We kept adding extensions on our gondolas until they were nearly at the ceiling," Wright says. Home Lumber's new location, a converted Walmart Neighborhood Market, allowed the business to expand from 1,500 square feet to 12,000. About a quarter of the former grocery store was walled off from the salesfloor to serve as warehouse space, but the new location still offers space for multiple expanded departments. Home Lumber wanted to focus on increasing its paint selection and even had space for a separate mixing room near the paint department. Power tools have expanded to more shelf space, and appliances, which were simply too large to be featured in the previous store, have become a big seller. "Niche categories like fishing and outdoor equipment offer further expansion opportunities. Our improved location with the lakes' proximity make it a good category for us," Humphreys says. Personnel and conversion costs were the primary concerns with the location. Having the right management and staff involved in a store move can be the determining factor in its success, Wright says. Finding a buyer for leftover equipment, like coolers, and converting old Walmart fixtures for Home Lumber's use were a few ways they offset costs for the new location. Another was working with the Ellsworth community, including seeking grants and working with local economic development officials to find resources available to businesses seeking growth. For example, the company took advantage of reimbursements available for businesses making infrastructure improvements in the community and was awarded a grant that was put toward the costs of removing the gas pumps in the parking lot. "Those were all things we researched before we committed to the move. You have to take advantage of your due diligence period, and it was in that time that we tried to talk ourselves out of the deal. If you can't find a good reason not to do it, then you're probably OK," Humphreys says. Home Lumber and Building Supply's new location in Ellsworth, Kansas, gives the store more space for products like outdoor seating and appliances. Trading Up Spaces

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