Hardware Retailing

MAR 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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March 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 91 By Renee Changnon, rchangnon@nrha.org Iowa Business Uses Expansion to Widen Audience, Create Retail Destination W hen a fire destroyed Marcus Lumber Co.'s shop buildings, lumber shed and delivery vehicles in 2004, the Leavitt family found a way to turn their bad luck around. Instead of closing its doors, Marcus Lumber was reborn with a brand new 18,000-square-foot building that included an expansive showroom. Within the past year, Marcus Lumber has added an additional 7,500 square feet to its building as part of its expansion and renovation plans. According to Grant Leavitt, a fourth-generation member of the Leavitt family, which has owned the 137-year-old Marcus, Iowa, business since 1920, the family hopes their most recent remodel will solidify Marcus Lumber's reputation as a destination retailer. "Our business is located in a small town," Leavitt says. "The overall population is decreasing in our county and town. By expanding and remodeling Marcus Lumber, we wanted to make a statement that our home improvement store is worth traveling to. That desire helped fuel our own desire to create a showroom people would talk about and appreciate." Following the Leaders Before Marcus Lumber opened the doors to its new showroom, the Leavitt family went through years of research and planning. Leavitt says they visited several successful independent retailers' stores across the country, which included Fox Home Center in Alsip, Illinois, Millard Lumber in Omaha, Nebraska, and two stores in Ohio. "We made it a point to visit several hardware stores and lumberyards," Leavitt says. "We spent an entire day at Hartville Hardware, asking questions and gaining inspiration from their leaders. It was invaluable." Hartville Hardware, located in Hartville, Ohio, is considered the largest hardware store in the U.S. and helped the Leavitts see a destination retail location in action. While in Ohio, the family also went to Keim Lumber Co., in Charm, Ohio. While Keim Lumber is larger than Marcus Lumber's business in scale, it also serves consumers in a small, rural community. "All the stores we visited provided us with great examples of things we wanted to implement in our showroom," Leavitt says. "Many of these businesses were 'If You Build It, They Will Come'

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