Hardware Retailing

FEB 2018

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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February 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 91 "When I started my designs, I wanted to highlight the types of architecture my ancestors would have built," Lau says. "At the same time, I wanted to create a modern feel. It has some modern features, but it's still very true to its roots in Soda Springs. We worked with PPG Paints to choose historically accurate colors for the interior, too." Construction hit a small snag in late August 2017. Lau's concrete supplier sent a mix intended for outdoor use to serve as the foundation of The Barn. Within hours of being poured, small holes rippled throughout the foundation, but Lau says the concrete company was quick to correct the problem. He believes the issue taught him and his team the importance of clear communication every step of the way. According to Lau, the biggest challenge in the journey to make his business dream a reality is ensuring he sticks to his budget. "It sounds ludicrous, but $100,000 doesn't go as far as you think when you're building a restaurant," Lau says. "My biggest obstacle is figuring out how to effectively manage those dollars." To save money, Lau, his sons, their friends and the Caribou Jack's team are completing as much of the construction work as they safely can. By December, Lau and his crew were jackhammering concrete after the last customers of the day had left, clearing space for plumbers to install the components to run a restaurant within the building. He's working in tandem with the Caribou County health department to make sure his new venture is up to code. "After that, we have some walls to build to divide the kitchen from the actual store," Lau says. "The flow will be similar to a Subway restaurant. You'll come in and make your order in one section, then move along and add toppings along the way," Lau says. Lau says the still-unnamed cafe will smoke beef, pork, turkey and chicken each day. He'll serve as head chef, shredding the meat and offering it as sandwiches, with salads or on baked potatoes with a selection of sides like macaroni and cheese. He'll use locally sourced ingredients and hopes to grow his own produce on-site within the next three years. The National Hardware Show and Traeger Grills have provided guidance throughout the process, Lau says. Traeger introduced him to chefs who suggested recipes to refine the restaurant's menu. Beyond the cash, Lau says the National Hardware Show has believed in his store and its cafe concept at each point in the process. In the first weeks of 2018, the store was ready for electricians and plumbers to start their work. Lau hopes the restaurant will have its grand opening in early April to coincide with warm weather and the start of the grilling season. He plans to invite all the vendors and workers who helped make his Reimagine Retail dream possible. Top: Caribou Jack's underwent a total store reset and major construction to be able to support an in-store eatery. Bottom: Lau says Traeger Grills are his top-selling product brand, which gave him the confidence to build a restaurant within his hardware store.

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