Johnny McMurria may be new to hardware retailing, but he knows all about taking care of the needs of customers. He has been serving customers in southern Georgia since opening his first auto parts store in 1972.

McMurria decided to fill a need in Blakely, Ga., where he operates one of his four auto parts stores. Although Blakely had an existing hardware store, as McMurria explains, “The owners run it like it’s a 7-Eleven. You can’t get away with that in a small town and I felt people in the community deserved something better.”

With major assistance from House-Hasson Hardware, McMurria decided to open a new hardware store just down the street from his auto parts store in Blakely. McMurria Hardware and Supply officially opened April 22.

McMurria had started buying a small amount from House-Hasson when the distributor acquired Sheffield Hardware in 1997 but later started buying from another supplier. His familiarity with territory manager Jamie Merritt convinced him to return as a customer.

“That’s a major reason because I was comfortable with Jamie and knew he could take care of our needs,” McMurria explains. “I’m very pleased with House-Hasson. They give great service.”

House-Hasson helped him come up with a store design and merchandise assortment that fit what he was trying to do. The 6,500-square-foot salesfloor focuses primarily on the core categories of tools, hardware, paint, lawn and garden, plumbing and electrical. “We’re mainly catering to homeowners with hardware basics, but we hope to attract some contractors and commercial customers as well,” McMurria says.

While his auto parts stores have benefited from selling an increased selection of convenience hardware items, his hardware store also stocks a convenience assortment of automotive. “If you have what people want then they don’t have to go to another town to shop,” he points out.

The hardware store took seven months in the planning stage, with House-Hasson’s expertise helping at every stage. “They came up with a real good deal for me to get a new store open. Everything went real smooth and I was very impressed with the help they gave me with the store set-up,” McMurria says.

He attended the January dealer market in Nashville, with Merritt helping him with the buying he needed to do for the store’s opening stock. “We found some really good deals. Jamie has been a big help with everything but especially on the buying end. We can trust that he’s looking out for us,” McMurria says.

They plan to hold an official grand opening soon, with help from House-Hasson. “We’re in a small town, so everyone knows we’re here,” McMurria says. “But we still want to put on a nice little event to get people to come in and check us out.”

McMurria’s dad started in business in the 1950s with a service station, and now McMurria’s son, Michael, manages one of his auto parts stores. The entrepreneurial spirit is in the blood, and it’s further proof the McMurria family will continue to serve the automotive and hardware needs of the community for a long time.