Peggy Griffin is a licensed realtor by trade, which means she knows when a property is ready to sell and when a property is in need of work.

Four years ago, with the real estate market in Selmer, Tenn., a little slow, Griffin decided to do something completely different—she bought a small hardware store in the town.

Tru-Savers Hardware had been around for about 30 years, but it was in need of attention. The previous owner, Bobby Privett, was looking to retire, and Griffin decided she was up to the challenge of buying and running a hardware business. She closed the deal in October 2011.

Griffin retained Privett’s son, Terry, to help her run the store, but she has been the one making key decisions.

One of the first decisions involved whether to keep buying from the store’s existing supplier, House-Hasson Hardware. “The store was already buying from House-Hasson, so that was the simple thing,” she explains. “But I quickly saw that they had a lot to offer. They are easy to do business with.”

Griffin, who bounces back and forth between the store and her nearby real estate office, likes the service she gets from her House-Hasson territory manager, George Alexander. “He is very helpful and gives us good advice,” she says.

Once she got her feet wet as a hardware retailer, she determined the 5,000-square-foot sales floor needed to be revamped to update the merchandise mix and store look. She enlisted House-Hasson’s aid to undergo a complete reset.

The fixture height was raised two feet and two additional aisles were gained to allow more products to be added in core categories. “We were able to display products in a more organized fashion and even do some cross-merchandising,” Griffin says.

The reset crew started working on the project in December and finished the first week of January. “Overall I’m very pleased with how things turned out and we’ve got some nice comments from customers,” she says.

Griffin likes attending the House-Hasson dealer markets and does a lot of buying there to take advantage of show specials. “I find great deals and discover new items. The Dollar House items are very appealing and we’re looking to bring some of those into the store,” she says. “I also like the fact that you can talk to Don Hasson at shows and get your questions answered. It’s a well-run company.”

Selmer is not a big town, with a population of about 5,000, but Griffin has used a few of the House-Hasson circulars to get the word out about the store. There is another independent hardware store in town, so they don’t have a monopoly on selling hardware.

The nearest big box is about 25 miles away, so Griffin knows she needs to pay close attention to her pricing. They start with House-Hasson’s suggested retailers but do adjust some here and there.

Tru-Savers Hardware has an unusual niche—artificial flower arrangements for decorating memorials. “The flower business was already in place when I bought the store, so we’ve just continued with it,” Griffin explains. “We sell a lot of flowers in the spring and then we switch over to Christmas items for the holidays.”

The store also sells live flowers during the growing season—the front sidewalk is lined with green goods. Plumbing and electrical are the top-selling categories, especially since they now feature a better selection of everyday items.

“House-Hasson makes sure we carry the right items and Terry is pretty good at helping me out,” says Griffin, who has a total staff of seven people. “Selling hardware is a lot different than selling real estate, but I’m getting the hang of it.”