If you follow me on social media then you know that my family has had the opportunity these past several months to drive through small towns all over the great state of Connecticut. It has been our pleasure to see Connecticut this way; and almost always there is a town hardware store. It seemingly never failed that in most cases they are not tucked away; rather, they are front and center in the heart of every town on Main Street. Makes sense, right? It especially makes sense because independent family run hardware stores are the cornerstone of our towns across the country. They are our neighbors and friends to the community they serve. And, I bet they have been entrenched in their communities running their businesses for multiple generations.
The fact that they are in the heart of their towns (I would guess) is reflective of their long standing commitment to the communities they service. Here are some other notables that I would like to share that we saw. Generally speaking, the hardware stores:
Family name was proudly displayed.
Physically looked different showcasing their independence regardless if they flew the same co-op flag or not;
Showcased add on businesses like Plumbing or Rental to complement the hardware store.
The interesting aspect in the age of franchising or corporate retailers opening a store on every corner, is that it is clear that independent brick & mortar hardware stores are unique. For example, it is highly unlikely that you will find another hardware store on the next corner. There wasn’t a big box store to be seen. I’m sure they were near you just couldn’t see them because they are never in the “heart” of the town.
In a lot of cases there were other businesses in the same town with the same family name. These types of independent retailers are known to give back to the community; whether, it is supporting a cause or a little league sports team. Did you know that when you support an independent retailer that for every $100 dollars spent locally with independent businesses that $48 gets reinvested back into the local community? While, the opposite is true when you spend that same $100 at chain stores, a mere $14 gets reinvested back into the community. You can read more information on why shopping small gives back to the community on one of my previous blogs Do You Shop Small?
I do make it a point to shop small.I started thinking how lucky these communities are that have their very own hardware store.And, I started getting a little jealous.I live in a relatively small town of 30,000 people in Connecticut.Several years ago, we had a local dealer (that has multiple locations) open a store in our town that focuses on paint.They primarily service the contractors.Now granted, we can drive to ANY next town for a hardware store visit.That’s right all of the towns around us have their very own independent hardware store. So, where’s my Hardware Store? Independent hardware stores know that you are always welcome on Main Street in the heart of our town.
Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and the Founder of the eRetailer Summit and JC Event Group. Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries. An expert in the field, Sonya has been published in numerous retail industry b-to-b publications. Sonya shares her experiences in her book series: Mindful Minutes, A Marketer’s Journey through Business: is now available to purchase on AMAZON.