Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wal-Mart: "If you can locate near one do so"

This appeared in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News. If you remember, I made the connection between Ace Hardware and Wal-Mart a long time ago.
Doug Henry and his partners filled a big void at the Wheatland Center in Pullman.

Doug, his wife, Linda, and longtime friends, Paul and Jan Strohbehn of Dayton, Wash., on March 1 opened Henry's ACE Hardware in the old Safeway building on the city's south end.

This is the second venture with ACE hardware for the Henrys of Walla Walla, Wash. They've owed a hardware store in Milton-Freewater, Ore., since September 2004.

The Henrys took a circuitous route to becoming retailers.

Doug worked in health care for 30 years, beginning as a respiratory therapist and eventually becoming an administrator at St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla.

For years he had thought of owning a hardware store but was too busy to consider pursuing the dream. That is until he saw a small ad in the newspaper selling a hardware store in Milton-Freewater.

For several days he weighed his options and took the plunge.

He didn't quit his day job.

Instead, he hired his daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Justin Schouten, to run the store.

That worked well for a few years until the opportunity came up in Pullman. ACE wanted to locate a store there and company representatives felt the Henrys were the ones who should own it.

Doug and his fellow hospital administrator, Paul Strohbehn, entered into a partnership to buy the building and quit their jobs to devote time to the new store.

ACE is a co-op. Every store is individually owned and operated with ACE as the main supplier.

"As owners, we have a lot of freedom and (with ACE's buying power) we can compete with big-box stores." Doug said.

Doug is confident if Wal-Mart is located near his store, which is the plan, he and others will benefit.

"Wal-Mart provides some competition but, generally speaking, it will bring in enough traffic to help us," he said. "ACE advised us not to be afraid. They said 'If you can locate near one do so.' "

The new 20,000-square-foot store will feature a full range of hardware items, housewares, lawn and garden supplies, paint and decorating supplies and gifts. The store also offers key- and glass-cutting and screen repair.

"We're not filled yet," Doug said. "We want to see what the needs are in Pullman."

The Pullman store has 20 employees.

A grand opening is planned for Friday, March 31 and April 1. Doors open at 8 a.m.

There will be demonstrations, entertainment, refreshments, prizes and daily specials.

Henry's ACE Hardware is located at 1690 S. Grand Ave. Business hours are Hours 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (509) 332-1450.
I wonder how PARD will spin this. I'm reminded how Deirdre Rogers stated at last year's UI Economics Club forum on Wal-Mart that "PARD had plans for the old Safeway" after I pointed out that the union-friendly grocer was the only company that required a dark-store ordinance in Pullman.

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1 comment:

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

This is precisely why my business partners and I want to remain in the location we presently have N22 Nutrition - Walmart will be built across the street from us.

In our industry, nutrition supplements, our compatibility with Walmart is our specialization. They have some of the stuff we do, but not nearly as much, and in addition we have many more specialty nutrition products.

We want them across the street for the spillover traffic. There will be so many people coming to this end of town that hundreds, if not thousands, will see our sign and come in to shop with us.

PARD, take note: with Walmart up and running nearby, it's possible that our traffic might increase enough that we would be able to begin hiring employees again, even with the ridiculous minimum wage in this state. You know, job creation...