Hardware Retailing

SEP 2016

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

Issue link: http://www.hardwareretailingarchive.com/i/717393

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Page 56 of 106

HARDWARE RETAILING | September 2016 52 a family atmosphere in their stores, and the team at Kief Hardware definitely fits this mold. The exuberance of the staff is evident when you see the way they work together and rally around the store. For evidence, just go to Kief Hardware's Facebook page to watch one of the many full- length music videos the staff has put together where they all play different roles, sing and dance through the aisles of the store. "Our employment application is like 15 pages long, and it is more about personality type than it is about experience or background," says James. "There are a lot of long hours here and a lot of hard work, so we want to have people who are going to like working together and being around each other." James admits that he's often willing to sacrifice a little bit of retail productivity if it means fostering a positive atmosphere. "It might take us a little longer to set a display or something than your average store, but that's okay. I'd rather have us having fun while we do it," he says. James also goes to great lengths to tap into his employees' creativity, encouraging them to try their ideas, no matter how "out there" they might seem. Example—Kief Hardware recently began opening its doors for Pokèmon Go events, inviting players into the store and sponsoring activities to attract Pokèmon Go characters. According to James, the staff was a huge part of making this a success. "We basically had our crew playing Pokèmon all day with our customers, but it was OK; they were having fun and creating advertising." A New Chapter From milkshakes to Pokèmon, the team at Kief Hardware undoubtedly has fun in their retail playground, but several years ago, James made the decision to get serious about helping other retailers. "There's no doubt that I get so much out of my involvement with NRHA," he says. "But it is also great knowing that by being on the board, you get to play a role in what NRHA is doing, and that means driving programs that really help other retailers." James points to things like Hardware Retailing magazine and NRHA's Retail Management Certification Program as tools NRHA offers that he feels can really help retailers searching for anything that might give them a leg up in this competitive industry. "I don't think I even take enough advantage of the resources NRHA has to offer," he says. "If you just look at Hardware Retailing, there is probably an article available that can help retailers with just about any project they are working on, and that's because NRHA has researched it and written about it." As chairman of the board, James says he looks forward to doing whatever he can to help NRHA make even more resources available to independent home improvement retailers everywhere and to encourage younger retailers to take the same chances he did. And with four children (Jack, 12; Julie, 11; Cate, 6; and Luke, 4 months) who James and Anna Marie hope will some day enter the business, James looks at time spent with NRHA as an investment in the future. "Even though I'm still trying things, at times I catch myself sounding like that older hardware guy and saying, 'Oh, that won't work; we already tried that.' I have to be careful not to do that and to listen to the younger generation that's out there now, doing new and exciting things we all can learn from." Whatever direction James takes the NRHA board, there will be a dedication to helping retailers succeed—and possibly a bit of mischief as well. The atmosphere of the team at Kief Hardware is full of fun personalities and laughter. James wants his employees to have fun working together and getting the job done, even if it takes a little longer.

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