By connecting to customers through social media and taking advantage of House-Hasson website and gift card programs, Bolivar Hardware & Supply delivers a new take on what a small town, rural hardware store can be.
There’s nothing like the smell of a brand new, just opened hardware store. Step inside the door of Bolivar Hardware & Supply in Bolivar, N.Y., and you are greeted with a smell that’s as bright and fresh as the potted mums decorating the front window.
Housed in a building originally constructed in 1909 as an Odd Fellows lodge, Bolivar Hardware now offers customers wide, well-lit aisles and easy-to-read signage. The fresh, appealing appearance of the store was developed by owners Collin and Taylor Morrison with major assistance from House-Hasson’s marketing department.
The 25-year-old Collin and 22-year-old Taylor opened Bolivar Hardware in May and the couple has a decidedly youthful approach to other aspects of the business, too. They have included a robust use of social media along with embracing House-Hasson programs such as the dealer website and gift card programs.
Taylor frequently updates the store’s Facebook page. Several times a week she posts sales items or more informal messages, such as birthday well-wishes to employees. A frequent star of the store’s Facebook page is Milo, the couple’s six-pound Yorkie and official store mascot.
“The social media has driven lots of business,” Taylor says. “We see younger customers and try to get customers to post on Facebook, too. Being interactive and asking questions helped draw attention to the store as we were just getting started.”
Bringing Hardware Home
The couple grew up in Bolivar, a town of about 2,500 in the western part of New York, near the Finger Lakes region. Taylor’s father owns a construction business, so she was familiar with the hardware industry. Collin was looking for an opportunity to start his own business and believed the community could support a hardware store.
“I knew that the contractors really needed someplace where they could get supplies quickly,” Taylor says. “There was just nothing close.”
With no major highways nearby, the closest big-box store is about 20 minutes away. Along with the desire to provide convenience for those in the area, the Morrisons also wanted to provide jobs. Now, the store has five carefully selected employees.
“I wanted people working here who could help customers and could recommend the best products for any job,” Collin says. “Two of the employees are also pro contractors and another is a retired teacher. I’m very lucky to have these people and they’re a big part of the store’s success.”
Area residents have already expressed a deep appreciation for the new store. One customer even ran an ad in the local newspaper thanking the Morrisons for taking the risk and opening a hardware store.
“They’re looking to keep growing and being there for the community, possibly expanding into other services as they find out what their customers are asking for,” says Jim Hickernell, House-Hasson’s territory manager for the store. “They’re not afraid to get in there and get their hands dirty. They’ve really made a difference in that town.”
Making the House-Hasson Choice
New to the hardware industry, Collin and Taylor did extensive research before deciding on a distributor. The Morrisons chose House-Hasson because the company offers name-brand products, such as DeWalt power tools, yet allow dealers to remain independent.
“The folks at House-Hasson were really relatable and good to work with,” Collin says. “They really worked with me on creating the assortment and financing.”
When designing the store, Morrison also credits House-Hasson with being flexible. He wanted to move the counter to allow space for a window display and additional signage. Morrison also valued the freedom of being able to select his own store colors and logo.
Once the store was designed, House-Hasson helped the Morrisons create an assortment that would match the needs of Bolivar. “We wanted our assortment to be designed specifically for our customer base,” Collin says. “House-Hasson was able to help us figure out what basic products we should stock, then they listened to us about what we wanted to add to the assortment.”
As of late autumn, the 3,600-square-foot store stocked about 15,000 SKUs of products and also offered more than 50,000 additional products through the House-Hasson e-commerce program. The Morrisons often remind customers about the online catalog and push their website’s e-commerce function.
“We like being able to show customers the e-commerce site,” Taylor says. “It shows the customers that we can provide whatever they need. It really expands our ability to serve our customers.”
With a client base evenly split between homeowners and contractors, the best-selling departments for Bolivar Hardware are paint and plumbing. Collin says that the store is becoming a destination for customers because of the Valspar paint brand.
Collin continually looks for new niches. For example, after a new campground opened up nearby, he began stocking camping supplies, such as lanterns and extendable camping forks. To catch customers’ attention during camping season, he prominently displayed these products on an endcap.
Customers regularly ask him to add certain products, Collin notes. By listening to customers’ suggestions, he discovered there’s a local demand for pool supplies. During the summer, the pool supply endcap was a popular draw for many customers.
Collin also saw an opportunity with the House-Hasson gift cards. Especially with the holidays coming up, the couple have publicized the gift card program on their website and mention it to customers in the store.
“They’re very progressive with what’s going on in the world,” Hickernell says. “They have fine teamwork from the ground up. It’s refreshing and revitalizing to see a young couple open a store with such enthusiasm.”