Between competition from big box hardware stores and the economic downturn, independent hardware stores have faced many challenges. Even, so there has been a resurgence in the once staple of almost every small community. Changing business practices such as cooperative sourcing and the introduction of unique products have helped to keep the friendly, personable Hardware Store Lancaster PA open. The benefits of the customer experience have also helped these stores to complete.
The critical advantage for these stores is an emphasis on service. Neighborhood stores are likely to keep experts long term, and the same people who helped a customer on an initial visit are likely to be there if the customer returns with questions. This forms a bond, as the employees may remember the customer’s project, and the customer sees the same faces. It is comforting to know that the same story doesn’t have to be repeated every time the customer makes a visit.
Of course, people come to stores to purchase the products that they need. Although a hardware store Lancaster PA cannot stock everything that a Lowers or Home Depot can, they do have some advantages in sourcing unique products. Almost all of the major retailers stock the same merchandise, but independent stores do not have to commit to certain buying patterns. New products, plus extended departments for other goods are favorable differences. The inventory may include additional giftware, like regional products. Or, the hardware selection may include goods to meet the climate and building needs of that specific area.
Part of a winning strategy for the neighborhood hardware store is that the goal is not to become a general store. Instead, managers specifically target merchandise. They want to obtain the interest of men, women, and families with children. Part of retail today involves discovery; selling a new unique impulse buy to a customer who only came in for one item. A positive experience such as this is likely to encourage these customers to visit again.
As the world seems to become more disconnected, and customer service is anything but, it’s encouraging to see these efforts. There is a movement to buy USA made products and to shop local stores. People miss the sense of community. A local hardware store is just one way to put one’s dollars where their heart rests; at home.