Hardware Retailing

FEB 2019

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | February 2019 78 Vermont Retailer Serves Music, Drinks and Home Improvement Goods W hen customers enter Harry's Hardware & The Den in Cabot, Vermont, they might be greeted by the sounds of musicians jamming and friends enjoying beers while they pick up items on their shopping list. While the hardware store has been in existence since the late 1800s, its most recent addition, The Den, has helped the business diversify its operations since it opened in the summer of 2017. The New England town is well-known for tourist attraction Cabot Creamery as well as the famous foliage people come from all over the world to observe in the fall. So creating a destination where tourists and locals could gather just made sense, says business owner Bobby Searles, who runs the operation with his wife, Stephany Searles, and their co-owners, Rory and Johanna Thibault. "Even before Rory and Johanna came on board, I kept thinking about ways we could make our store an even bigger gathering place in the community," Bobby says. "I was considering adding a brewery or a coffee shop, but those ideas eventually led to the concept of a pub serving local Vermont beers and offering live music inside our store. That's how The Den became a reality." Joining Forces to Create a Destination Bobby and Stephany have owned and operated the town's grocery store since they moved to Cabot in 2006. They relied on the hardware store in town for projects in their home and in their grocery business. So when the hardware store shut down in 2012, they knew the community had a great need. "Stephany and I reopened Harry's Hardware in the spring of 2013," Bobby says. "Our business is a fully functional hardware store and gas station, both of which our town was missing when the former hardware and gas station closed. However, it's hard to be a profitable small town hardware store, so we knew expanding our store offerings was the next thing we needed to focus on." Hardware, seasonal items, lawn and garden goods and gas from the pumps make up most of the sales at the 3,000-square-foot hardware store. They also have a sporting goods section with equipment for hunting and camping. To serve the out-of-towners who come searching for souvenirs, the store also sells T-shirts and artisan items, like maple syrup to top their pancakes at home, Bobby says. When the Thibaults moved to town, they were frequent shoppers at Harry's Hardware. The couples quickly go to know each other, and they talked about ways to strengthen the business. Hardware, Beer and Beats By Renee Changnon, rchangnon@nrha.org

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