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With Walmart on Horizon, Decatur Hardware Shop Adapts

The Intown ACE Hardware store on Scott Boulevard has expanded its garden department, for example.

What does the coming of Walmart to nearby Suburban Plaza mean to a small store like ?

One of the owners, Tony Powers, says it means even more change, adaptivity and creativity, according to Michelle Hiskey, a writer for the Saporta Report. Hiskey writes:

For Powers and his business partner Dave Jones, who benefit from the Ace national buying collective, that transformation meant ordering Adirondack chairs in sherbet colors; devoting prime shelf space to Decatur-logoed license plates and apparel; letting loose with fun events such as a staff Pirate Day, documented on the store’s website.

Walk in at the right time, and you can scoop your own bag of popcorn freshly popped in the old-fashioned cart near the front register. Across the aisle is a counter lined with old wooden baseball bats – collected first by a lawyer who lived next door, who bartered them for rent when Intown Hardware expanded. In lieu of advertising, the store prefers to sponsor youth teams, school auctions and community fundraisers. Ask a cashier about their year-round inventory of Girl Scout cookies.

The adapt-or-die attitude is nothing new. A little more than a year ago and emphasis on customer service. The story said:

In fact, the store recently expanded, buying the property next door to widen its thriving garden center, and sales have steadily increased for more than a decade, said store co-founder Dave Jones.

He knows the secret to success, and he’s willing to share it.

“Service is our priority,” said Jones. “You go to a lot of places and they’ve got stuff. But at our store, we have employees who will tell you everything you want to know about an item. And we’ll treat you the same if you’re spending $15 or $1,500.”

Meanwhile, the store is hoping Walmart keeps its word and doesn't start a gardening department at the store planned at Suburban Plaza.

Staci April 25, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Walmart keeping its word? That would be a first -- and they've already gone back on it. Look at the Sapora Report again: [Note: After this story was published, Wal-Mart's Director of Community & Media Relations, William C. "Bill" Wertz, notified me of this correction: "There will be a garden center in our new store. It was overlooked in some preliminary discussions with the community, but we corrected that back in October of 2011. The GC [garden center] is in our official application and has been discussed at multiple public meetings and approved by the [DeKalb] county board of zoning appeals.”]
Jonathan Cribbs April 25, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Yeah, we saw that this afternoon, Staci. Decatur-Avondale Estates Patch is going to have an update on that A.S.A.P., and I'll have it on my site as soon as it's ready.
Sally April 25, 2012 at 12:24 PM
WalMart is never going to offer the kind of service that Ace Hardware does. I love Intown Ace Hardware. I will shop at the new WalMart but I will also continue to shop at Intown. There is business enough out there for everyone who is willing to work for it.
Helen Lenkerd April 25, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Of course, I'll continue to shop at Ace Hdwe. They have the best service of anyone! That doesn't mean we can't also shop at WalMart for those items not covered at other places nearby. That's what Choice is all ablou!
Robert April 26, 2012 at 03:22 AM
I understand your sentiment, but Walmart ultimately decreases choice. Many of us claim that we'll continue to shop at local specialty retailers, but this behavior can be changed by a retailer like Walmart. If you're picking up groceries or office supplies at Walmart you might decide to pick up some potting soil and planters "just this one time." The convenience of Walmart makes it easy for consumers to leave behind retailers like Intown with every trip they don't need to make to that other retailer. Ultimately, when neighborhood retailers close down and only Walmart or other big box retailers are left, our choice is diminished. Why do we need a Walmart in Suburban? Walmart "savings" can be replicated at other retailers and one already exists 3 miles away. Decatur and surrounding areas will suffer if Walmart enters Suburban Plaza.

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