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Hardware stores, sometimes known outside the United States as DIY stores, sell household hardware including: fasteners, hand tools, power tools, keys, locks, hinges, chain, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, cleaning products, housewares, tools, utensils, paint, and lawn and garden products directly to consumers for use at home or for business. Many hardware stores have specialty departments unique to its region or its owner's interests. These departments include hunting and fishing supplies, plants and nursery products, marine and boating supplies, pet food and supplies, farm and ranch supplies including animal feed, swimming pool chemicals, homebrewing supplies and canning supplies.

Many hardware stores specialize in home decor and include large selections of paint and wallcoverings. In very small towns the US Post Office may contract with a hardware store owner to have a full service postal counter in the store which is operated by the store employees.

Larger hardware stores may sell small amounts of building supplies including lumber, flooring, roofing materials and fencing. Stores that sell everything needed to build a house are usually referred to as Home Centers or Lumberyards.

There may be fewer hardware stores in the U.S. now than in years past, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were still 14,300 hardware stores in the U.S. in 2005, employing on average 10 employees each. Even in the face of competition from large chain stores (commonly referred to as Big Box Stores) new hardware stores in the U.S. are still opening all the time.

In the U.S. there are four major nationwide wholesale suppliers to Hardware Stores. All four report more than $1 billion (US Dollars) in sales annually. Three of them operate as cooperatives: Do It Best Corp, from Fort Wayne Indiana, True Value company from Chicago Illinois and Ace Hardware from Oakbrook Illinois. Hardware store owners purchase stock in these suppliers and are "members" and "owners" as well as customers. A hardware store may choose to include the name of the cooperative in the advertised name of the store.

The fourth nationwide supplier is Orgill, a traditional wholesale organization that does not operate as a cooperative.

Hardware stores also purchase from a variety of smaller regional wholesalers and specialty manufacturers. These manufacturers include Black and Decker, Rubbermaid and Weber.

Some hardware stores operate rental businesses as part of the primary business, and rent for public use construction tools and/or party supplies. The major hardware cooperatives provide brand name rental advertising and support for hardware store owners including Do It Best Rental, Grand Rental Station and Taylor Rental.

Unique Services in a Hardware Store

Part of the popularity of Hardware Stores is the range of services that a hardware store provides. Most retail outlets only sell goods, while a hardware store custom-makes or repairs a large variety of household items. It is common for a hardware store in the U.S. to repair broken windows and screens, repair power equipment such as lawn mowers, re-key entry locks, make copies of house keys and car keys, re-wire lamps and vacuum cleaners, sharpen knives and cutting tools, make minor repairs to faucet and shower parts, repair kerosene heaters and cut and thread plumbing pipe to sketch.

Hardware Stores in U.S. Popular Culture

In the long-running TV sitcom Happy Days, the father, Howard Cunningham, owns a hardware store and many plotlines revolve around activity in the store.

In the HBO made for TV series Deadwood, the story revolves around a pair of men that traveled to the wide-open American west to open a hardware store in a mining town.

In the movie Welcome to Mooseport (2004), the owner of the town's Hardware Store runs for Mayor against the former president of the United States.

In the movie Zodiac (2007) the man suspected to be the Zodiac Killer works in an Ace hardware store.

Hardware Industry Trade Association



The North American Retail Hardware (NRHA) is a membership organization that provides training and resources for hardware store owners and publishes a trade magazine in print and online at http://www.nrha.org.

In the United Kingdommarker, hardware stores were traditionally (pre-1980s) called ironmongers, and larger, out-of-town hardware shops are called Do it yourself or DIY centres.

The three largest hardware retailers in the world are The Home Depot, Lowe's (both of the United Statesmarker), and B&Q of the United Kingdommarker, respectively.

References

  1. New York Times Article
  2. Businesweek magazine
  3. Entrepeneur magazine
  4. The US Census
  5. Poughkeepsie Journal article
  6. Article from Oakland Business Review archived on Mlive site
  7. ABC News
  8. Long Angeles times article
  9. The U.S. Security and Exchange Commission Fillings
  10. The U.S. Security and Exchange Commission Fillings
  11. Internet Movie Database



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