Business Overview

A hardware store typically sells hand and power tools, building materials, fasteners, keys, locks, hinges, chains,electrical supplies, plumbing supplies, cleaning products, housewares, utensils, and paint. They’re designed for DIY consumers and handymen (as well as tradesmen) who need a place to source supplies for projects.

Who is this business right for?

This type of business is usually attractive to handymen, tradesmen, and those who enjoy home improvement activities. The owner should be able to advise customers on purchases and have experience with the products being sold in the store.

Long hours aren’t always necessary, but weekends might be. Having a flexible schedule helps, especially during the first few years of operation.

What happens during a typical day at a hardware store?

Day-to-day activities include meeting with customers on the floor and helping them source materials for their DIY projects. Checking inventory, making purchases from suppliers, and managing staff are also essential aspects of the job.

What is the target market?

The business makes money by charging customers for tools and supplies. Usually the price is a fixed price for the item. In the case of items like rope or chain, the store may sell an item by the foot or priced by the yard.

Most customers pay by credit or cash. It’s important to offer customers a variety of ways to pay you as some volume customers may require credit terms in order to do business with you. Volume orders/clients also allow you to include finance charges or terms in your purchase price. It’s not uncommon for a hardware store to offer terms of 30 days to 60 days for a well-established client. However, these terms can be extended with or without interest. Most customers expect 30 days no interest.

You can establish a policy of charging interest after 30 days to collect more money from customers who need more time to pay.

How does a hardware store make money?

Ideal customers are usually DIY customers or handymen. However, a hardware store can set up trade accounts with local tradesmen to earn consistent business. For example, a store might contract with a professional carpenter to offer supplies for his business on an ongoing basis.

Clients are typically local. Advertising for a hardware store can be done one of several ways, including billboards, Yellow Page ads, pay-per-click local online ads, fliers, and email marketing to an existing customer list.

Email marketing is an underutilized strategy in this industry because most hardware stores rely on word of mouth and foot traffic. However, by emailing your existing customers on a regular basis, you can generate significantly higher revenues than relying on people randomly coming into your store when they need something.

A targeted email campaign would also allow you to better predict revenue and profit. Offer sales around holidays, for example, when business is typically slow. Entice customers with value, not discounts. Show them your own personality. Don’t make the mistake of running a discount-driven business as this only cultivates fairweather customers.

What is the growth potential for a hardware store?

Hardware stores can be run as a small family-run or local shop or as a chain store. For example, Lowes, Home Depot, and other similar stores are large chain stores that operate all over the U.S. A small “mom and pop shop” may only have one location.