John Moore has had a dream for a long time to open a store that could sell everything his customers could ever want. That dream has become a reality, with the opening of the new Moore’s Feed Store in Pontotoc, Miss.
The main salesfloor encompasses 137,000 square feet, which is roughly the same size as a typical big-box home center. When you add in the adjacent buildings for lumber/building materials, feed and metal shop, the total space under roof is 287,500 square feet.
A soft opening was held November 18 for the new store, which has had the community of 5,800 people buzzing for many months.
“We just didn’t have enough room at the old store, which is about 18,000 square feet,” says Moore. “I figured we might as well go for it and be a one-stop shop for the community.”
Moore’s parents, John Sr. and Kathleen, got started in retail when they opened a grocery store in the late 1950s. “The grocery industry was a lot harder to be successful in,” notes Kathleen.
In 1962 they shifted gears and opened Moore’s Feed Store, which has expanded into several new areas over the years. In the early 1990s the Moores started carrying more hardware-related items and about 10 years ago they started up a metal fabricating shop that has really taken off. They also make and sell their own line of feed in a feed mill that is run by Moore’s brother, Johnny.
The Moores started buying from House-Hasson when Moore-Handley was bought out in 2009, and they have been pleased with the company’s responsiveness. “House-Hasson has provided really good help to us,” Moore says.
The new ground-up store was in the planning and development stages for more than two years, with House-Hasson coming up with the store design and assortment plans. It’s by far the largest store ever set up and serviced by House-Hasson, with contributions coming from every area of the company.
Robby Blackwood has been setting store for House-Hasson for 22 years and he’s tackled some big projects before, but nothing of this scope. “This is the largest store we’ve ever done,” he says. “It’s a unique store and we’re very proud of what we’ve done there.”
As the set-up crew was putting the finishing touches on the store in early November, it was clear that category-killing assortments were being developed throughout the salesfloor that rival that of any big-box store. Plumbing, electrical, hand tools, lawn and garden, hardware and paint all featured depth and breadth of inventory.
A paint counter is centrally located with a huge overhead sign attracting attention, while fasteners also get their own service counter in the back. At the front of the store is a large service counter for auto parts. Special energy-efficient lights were installed to keep utility costs down.
Additional niche categories include animal health, clothing, footwear, fencing, horse tack, cleaning, poultry, pet supplies, sporting goods, trailer parts and welding. One adjacent building contains bulk feed and a metal shop, while another contains lumber and building materials.
“We’ve added a huge niche in automotive parts and we’re much deeper in plumbing and other core categories, while still maintaining our metal roofing business,” says Moore.
To help customers find what they are looking for there are five menu boards located throughout the store listing all the product categories. As customers wander around the store, they will soon notice that the emphasis is on name-brand products.
Moore notes that the store carries about 200,000 SKUs, which is why they are using a sophisticated POS system at the eight checkout stations. “This is a true one-stop shop. If we find there’s something missing, we’ll add it,” he says.
“Yes it’s big, but it’s what we needed in this town. We will carry everything but groceries,” adds Moore’s sister, Sherria Waldrop, who handles accounts payable and payroll. “Not only were we running out of room at the old store, but lack of parking was a major problem too,” she adds.
Moore’s daughter, Liz Russell, serves as assistant manager and she has overseen the selection and merchandising of the clothing and footwear categories, which take up prime space in the front of the store.
Russell came up with the idea of attracting sponsorship support from companies such as Nutrena, whose logo is prominently featured in the signage. Moore’s is the largest dealer of Nutrena products in the state of Mississippi.
Moore’s House-Hasson rep, Shane Taylor, along with Regional Manager Rick Walker, are a constant presence in the store, making suggestions and following up on requests. “They’re very good at taking care of things for us,” Moore says. “Everyone at House-Hasson has been great to work with.”
Moore says House-Hasson has also helped him with his pricing, which is an important component when you operate a store of this size. “We think we can stay competitive with anyone,” he says. The nearest big-box store is about 25 miles away in Tupelo, while a Walmart is just a few miles down the road.
“There’s just a lot of stuff you can’t get in town. Now everyone can come here and get what they need without having to drive to Tupelo,” says Moore.
“John is not scared to try something,” points out Rick Walker. “He’s expanded into gun safes, fiberglass tubs and welding equipment. And he’s got amazing depth of inventory. If a customer wants 50 of something, he’s got it.”
Waldrop notes that they have already hired 22 new employees and will definitely need to hire more. “We want to make sure we give customers the service they’ve come to expect from our other store,” she says.
The old store captured about 25 percent of its sales from pro customers, and it will take a little time to see how sales shape up at the new store. The metal roofing business has been a huge and growing part of the business. “They have everything you would need for a metal roof from set-up to finish including screws and flashing,” says Rick Walker. “They are already shipping into Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama.”
Moore plans to operate both locations for a little while, because there is a road construction project that will mess up traffic patterns for a period. “People were already coming from all over to shop at Moore’s, so that will only increase with the new, larger store,” Rick Walker says.
He says that House-Hasson is developing a website for Moore’s and will add an e-commerce function to it later on. After all, even stores with 200,000 SKUs can use a little help boosting sales.