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.

Issue link: https://hardwareretailing.epubxp.com/i/971427

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Page 124 of 248

HARDWARE RETAILING | May 2018 112 Hardware Retailing (HR): Can you give us a little background on your company and how you got involved in the business? Was this your first career choice? Megan Menzer (MM): Newton's True Value was founded by my great-grandparents Grace and Earl Newton in 1924. They later passed the business on to their daughter, Nellie, and her husband, Albert, my grandparents. My dad took over the business in the late 1970s. I had the opportunity to work with my great-grandmother and my grandmother in the store. We were probably one of the first stores to computerize in our area. We computerized in 1991 when I was in high school. I went to computer classes with my grandma in Kansas City to do training. Today, we have two locations. Both stores sell hardware and appliances and feature large gift departments. The original business is in four old buildings downtown. The second location, which we opened in 2012, is a Destination True Value-style store. My family also operates a plumbing, electrical and HVAC company. Working at the store was always my first career choice. Growing up, my sisters and I would work part time down at the store. I would help my grandma with the business administration side of it. I remember doing books at her house. I would help her do payroll and write ledgers. I continued working part time at the store throughout high school and college. HR: What unique challenges do you think independent retailers face in today's market? In your area of the country? MM: The consumer is changing every day, and trends don't seem to last as long. What's hot today isn't hot tomorrow. So there's a balance in determining how much inventory to carry and what products to carry. The consumer's shopping habits are also completely different than they used to be. We used to have a lot of loyal customers, and now it's more about convenience. They're on their phones shopping instead of coming into the store. Saturdays used to be busy, but now kids have activities that the whole family is involved in. Instead of them shopping or being home fertilizing their lawn, they're at the soccer game. So, one of our challenges is getting customers into the store and getting them engaged. Another challenge is with employees and finding knowledgeable people who want to work. It's a huge challenge we never had in the past. Here in rural Kansas, there has been a decline in population that has really hurt us in the last five years. We had an Amazon distribution center and a hospital close, so those people left the area. HR: What are immediate solutions to those challenges? MM: We're doing an inventory analysis and looking at resetting our store. I don't think a 17,000-square-foot store is a necessity anymore. If there are other retailers out there who are looking to expand, I would recommend not having as large as a store. It may be beneficial to use that extra space for storage. Buy online, pickup in store is critical in today's shopping experience. HR: Independent retailers say one of their primary appeals is convenience, but your experience suggests the definition of convenience has changed. How should retailers think differently about convenience? MM: With the changes to the entire shopping experience, convenience is a whole new dynamic. People need things immediately, and since they have the option to order online, and in some cases get same-day delivery, they won't wait until you open your store in the morning. I think it's important for independent retailers to be available to their customers. Give your customers your cellphone numbers, so if a waterline breaks, they can call you and you can be their immediate solution. I'm also interested in putting lockers in to give customers an option to pick up purchases after hours. Newton's True Value • 2 Stores, Southeast Kansas Megan Menzer

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