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Locally owned hardware stores take on big-box competition
by Nneka Okona
July 03, 2013 08:58 AM | 1429 views | 0 0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye.Michael Dickerson, of Stockbridge, shops at Flippen True Value Hardware on a weekly basis for supplies.
Staff / Katherine Frye.Michael Dickerson, of Stockbridge, shops at Flippen True Value Hardware on a weekly basis for supplies.
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In a time where competing against big-box hardware retailers is the norm, a few local business owners are balancing customer service with product lines to encourage residents to shop at family-owned stores.

David Farrell, the manager of Flippen True Value Hardware at 3690 Jodeco Road in McDonough, has been pursuing that mission since 2000, when he and his wife, Martha, relocated to Henry County.

“My father-in-law [Joe Henley] owned the store previously and my wife and I moved here from Florida,” he said.

In the past 13 years of managing the independent outlet of a national hardware cooperative, Farrell said he monitored trends in the home improvement industry.

But he said he was not sure whether the economy, the nature of the business world or the hardware industry itself was responsible for the store closings he’s witnessed through the years.

“It’s been sort of gradual and off and on,” Farrell said. “Every so often, it seems like another one of them closes.”

Even more of a reason, he said, for the entrepreneur to be much more vested in maintaining his clientele and giving them a reason to return.

According to Farrell, what makes the difference is a sense of familiarity.

“I’ve been here 12 years plus,” he said. “A lot of times, customers recognize me or my employees. We have one gentleman that has been here for 20 years. There are others that have been here five, 10 or 15.”

Inventory and price points are other pluses Farrell noted.

“We have a better selection of metric nuts and bolts than other places,” he said.

Vicki Cox, co-owner of the McDonough location of retailer-owned cooperative Ace Hardware at 1750 Hwy. 81 East, agreed shoppers choose to patronize smaller, locally owned stores because of the attention they receive.

“We have very good customer service as far as how our employees interact with our customers,” she said.

Like Farrell, Cox said selection and savings contribute to customer loyalty.

“I feel like what we offer them on a daily basis keeps them coming back,” she said. “Our prices are very competitive. A lot of times you will find that our prices are better than elsewhere and we have many sales throughout the year.”
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