Crescent Springs Hardware Finds Success is All in the Family
If you’ve been to a House-Hasson Dealer Market, then you probably know about the four hardware ladies who dress in matching costumes. “We like to have fun at the markets,” explains Liz Hall, who is the one who comes up with the last-minute ideas for costumes that relate to the market theme. Whether they are all decked out in baseball uniforms or cowboy hats, they are hard to miss.
Hall is one of three generations of family members who work at Crescent Springs Hardware in Crescent Springs, Ky., a business that was started by her grandparents in 1972.
Rose Wilson is the matriarch of the business that she operated with her husband, Bill, until he passed away in 2004.
Wilson has kept the store going with a lot of help from four kids and three grandkids who are active in the business. She handles receivables but is also a fixture on the salesfloor, taking time to chat with long-time customers. Her sons Mark and Michael (known as Bubba) work in a related operation that sells and repairs commercial mowers in a separate building that shares a parking lot with the hardware store. Daughter Cathy Croley handles screen and lamp repair, while daughter Pam Holstein oversees the sales and service of residential outdoor power equipment and the daily paperwork. Hall can generally be found helping customers in the lawn and garden department or checking in outdoor power equipment.
The main salesfloor is handled by Wilson, Croley, Holstein, Hall and a female employee, which means customers are most likely to be waited on by a woman. “Some of our customers are impressed that five women work upfront. As women we aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty,” Hall says.
Adds Croley, “It’s not a big deal that the store is run almost entirely by women. A lot of guys come in and say you gals really know your stuff. We still have the occasional guy come in and ask for a man to help them.”
They all know how to provide expert service, which is why the store has so many loyal customers who are willing to pay a premium for that personal touch. “It’s very seldom that we don’t have what the customer wants,” Wilson says. “And we don’t get a lot of customers who say ‘I can get this somewhere else for less.’”
By the same token, they maintain loyalty to House-Hasson because of the great service they get from the wholesaler. “Our salesman, Ray Langdon, is the best. He’s very dedicated,” Wilson says. “He helps us put away our order and even waits on customers. House-Hasson takes care of everything.”
Adds Croley, “We deal a lot with House-Hasson’s customer service department. They’re awesome. It seems like we call them every day for something.”
Croley notes that they have developed a unique niche selling, installing and repairing snowplows and salt spreaders. “It’s opened up another world for us. We don’t have to worry about competing with the big boxes on it and it gives us a way to keep our employees busy in the winter,” she says.
On the retail side, outdoor power equipment is a huge business for them, both for sales and repair work. “Right now we have about 300 mowers that need to be repaired, but that’s actually low for us,” says Holstein, who adds that customers seem more inclined to fix their mowers these days than buy a new one.
Holstein spent 18 years in a management role with a big company, but when they wanted her to transfer to California, she decided to return to the family business. That was 13 years ago. “I wanted to see family members, so that’s why I returned. We all get along so well,” she says.
She put her organizational skills to work in the outdoor power equipment department, assigning people to the right roles and making sure there was a proper paper trail to keep track of jobs. Everything runs smoothly now.
“We all have our niches in the business,” Croley points out. “This is all I’ve known since I was 13 and I consider myself lucky. I get to see my family members every day and we have a lot of fun working together.”
Hall started out doing warranties on power equipment and has been there 11 years. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I just fell in love with the business,” she says, pointing out that for awhile her great-grandmother was involved as the fourth generation of the family.
Greeting every customer that comes in is what separates Crescent Springs Hardware from other retailers, according to Hall. “Customers come back time after time. To them, it’s priceless to be able to get in and out quickly,” she says.
Holsteinis especially proud that they have never had to lay off people, even as the economy slowed down. “Taking care of our employees is important to us. We have a unique business and are very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with it,” she says.
With a Dealer Market coming up soon, you can be sure the ladies of Crescent Springs Hardware will be coming up with something special. “The markets are so important. We know we need to be smart with our buying to stay competitive and you learn so much,” says Croley. “Plus we have so much fun.”