Hardware Retailing

MAY 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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HARDWARE RETAILING | May 2018 108 HR: Can you overview the move your business went through recently? JG: In 2016, SocketSite, a San Francisco real estate trends website, reported without fact-checking that Center Hardware was closing its doors for good because housing development plans were submitted for our site in San Francisco. Although we were in the process of finding a new location, we weren't closing. We needed at least 20,000 square feet in a tiny city with parking and access. It seemed impossible, but our customers and other businesses started calling us with ideas for where we should go, telling us about properties, feeding us ideas and connections. We have a great relationship with our landlord, and even though we looked at several sites in San Francisco, we ended up in a fantastic location with the same landlord. We began the prep of moving a store that was 140 years old from an old steel warehouse it had lived in for 30 years. We had 70,000 SKUs in about 16,000 square feet. After many months working with paper and ideas, we took our amazing crew of people, called in every favor, apologized in advance to everyone and closed for the four business days between Christmas and New Year's in 2016 and were able to open for customers at the new location on Jan. 3, 2017. Everything that could go wrong essentially did. Construction was delayed. Some of our staff worked 52 days straight. Things broke. Fixtures were missing. Merchandisers set our sections wrong. New critical inventory was delayed from storms. A terrible cold ripped through the staff. The new paint machines didn't work properly. We'd been in a drought, so no one had any idea the roof was going to leak in a million places. Our customers were calling wanting to know why we were closed. It became a public relations nightmare fighting rumors that we were no longer in business. It was a Herculean effort by many and because of it, we can all be proud of having a store with an unmatched depth of inventory, that's bright, organized and beautiful. It was a tremendous feat that's rewarded daily by our commitment to and from our customers, trust earned from our vendors and a whole bright future to figure out what's next. HR: What growth opportunities are you looking into? JG: We spent the last year watching, listening and learning. It gave us a tremendous amount of information to reinvent our outside sales department. We have reconnected with a number of groups in San Francisco to have these conversations about why they should invest with us and not Grainger or HD Supply. We are bringing in tool lines that increase our foot traffic and credibility. Last year we became the only full-line Festool dealer in San Francisco, and we're proud to be chosen this year as the first STIHL dealer in the city. We carry the full line. With our new location, we have an amazing amount of space outside, so we are working with our neighborhood and often host makers, pop-up shops, food trucks, tool demos and DIY projects. Center Hardware & Supply recently moved locations in downtown San Francisco. In four days, the staff helped move 70,000 SKUs.

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