Living through a renovation is always difficult. But just try running a business in the middle of one. “We basically had to build a new store within our existing store,” says Louie Benson about the six-month process of converting his True Value of New Paltz hardware store into a “Destination True Value” location. The upheaval involved first creating the space to start the new construction, putting every single item in the store up on movers, then refinishing floors, painting walls and installing 37,000 pounds of new shelving that required one-and-a-half tractor trailer loads to deliver. The paint department was moved from the rear of the store to the front, and not one of the old shelves was left in place. “It was hard on our customers, too,” Benson adds. “They were really great about putting up with all of this. We appreciate them staying with us.”
A grand re-opening celebration at 4 Cherry Hill Road will be held on Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18 from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A ribbon-cutting will take place on Friday at 11 a.m. with the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce and True Value company CEO, John Hartmann (who, incidentally, was featured on the CBS TV show “Undercover Boss” in 2014; a task he was well equipped for given a prior career as an FBI agent).
Saturday’s event will find the New Paltz Fire Department cooking up refreshments from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with all proceeds going to the fire department.
All weekend long, attendees can sign up for a True Value Rewards card and “Spin to Win” fun prizes. There’s also a treasure hunt with a chance to win one of four $50 shopping sprees in the store. One lucky winner will win a Weber gas grill, gas pressure washer or 22-inch self-propelled mower.
Shoppers inside the store who buy a five-gallon bucket for $1 will receive 25 percent off all the regular-priced items that fit inside it.
The idea of a “Destination True Value” is one the company came up with in order to make the store more accessible and relevant to today’s DIY-er. Since 2008, hundreds of True Value locations have newly opened or converted to become Destination True Value stores. The format incorporates one-stop shopping in an easy-to-navigate environment, project inspiration and all of the products and advice consumers need to complete their projects. The selection of products is updated, offering a contemporary appeal to the younger demographic, who often have a different shopping style as well, preferring to grab a basket and shop on their own, says Benson. The Destination True Value stores make it easier to do that in the way they’re set up. But True Value is known for their customer service, too, so for those who still want to get advice and help when they go in the store, that will always be available. “We couldn’t run this business without our employees,” Benson adds. “We have an experienced, mature staff who have been with us for a minimum of ten years; some of them have been with us since the beginning.”
Benson opened the New Paltz store in 1998. Many people are not aware that True Value stores are not franchises, he notes, but rather members of a buying co-operative that benefit from the overall company’s structure but with the freedom of an independent business owner to operate as they wish.
The Destination True Value format is tailored to the owner’s specifications so they can offer their customers what is relevant to the local market. Benson, a native New Paltzian, says they know most of their customers very well and have an emotional attachment to them. “We know what they want; we know, for example, that ‘Sam’ needs a certain product every two months so we make sure we have that for him. We like being able to solve their problems and taking the time to help them. And we have a lot of loyal customers and a good reputation.”
One of the strengths of the business is the paint department, he says, especially their ability to match colors and problem-solve. “And we make an effort to change with the times and stay current with the product; we’re a ‘full-line’ Benjamin Moore dealer.”
In addition, the store does a booming rental business of all the tools and equipment someone might need to carry out a project. “And we don’t just hand it to them,” Benson says, “we can show them how to use it and even deliver it to their home.” Another benefit people may not be aware of is the ability to order any product online at www.truevalue.com and have it shipped at no additional cost to the local store for pick-up.
So how difficult is it for the owner of an individualized hardware store to compete with the big box stores nearby? “We can co-exist,” says Benson. “The pricing is all the same these days, and we’re very different stores with different product lines and what we offer.”
True Value Hardware is located at 4 Cherry Hill Road in New Paltz. Regular hours are Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information is available at (845) 255-8481, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.truevalue.com/newpaltz.