In 2014, Kyle and Emily Medearis opened their 3rd successful business, following two General Nutrition Centers (GNC).
. . . is the place with the helpful hardware folks
By Sherry Vogel Reporter
In 2014, Kyle and Emily Medearis opened their 3rd successful business, following two General Nutrition Centers (GNC). They decided to venture into the hardware business. The hardware retail business was completely new to them, but they were open to the challenge. Once purchased, they realized that it was definitely the right decision. The business, people, and community of Baker grew on them and they don’t regret a thing.
Investing in Baker
The Medearis’, who were living in Alexandria, MN, a small city of 13,000, yearned to get back to small town living. When the opportunity to purchase the Hardware Hank commercial property in Baker, Montana arose, they saw an opportunity to capture their dream.
They arranged to meet the long time owners of Hardware Hank, Randy and Donna Morris, for a tour of the store and the community. The young couple was charmed by what they found. “When we came to Baker, we fell in love with everything right away. We came to town in February 2014 and before we came into the store, we loved the community.” Baker offered them the qualities of a small town just what the couple longed for: safety, friendliness, and a sense of community.
A successful strategy
The new owners soon decided to retire the Hardware Hank franchise and transition it to Ace Hardware.
“Through Ace Hardware there is better buying power so the customer can get a better price and more options. Also, the technology is more advanced, which leads to better efficiency and operation.” Hardware Hank still remains a second vendor, when customers want to purchase items they are accustomed to.
The enterprising young couple has changed the infrastructure of their building to accommodate other changes they have made to the hardware business. They have removed two prior storage rooms to expand the sales floor. By doing this they have added 610 sq. ft. of floor space. They not only moved out, but up as well. They’ve added 160 linear feet by expanding their shelving upwards, in addition to making their shelving continuous which allotted 1,000 sq. ft. more.
The checkout area, UPS counter, paint hub, key machine, and Stihl power equipment were all moved with the intent of product expansion while making customer flow easier. “The whole store was rearranged, which was a lot of work, but well worth it,” stated Emily.
Kyle and Emily have stocked their store with a number of high quality items the store had not offered previously.
Among these new offerings are a wide variety of firearms.
The decision to bring in firearms was an added service to the Baker community, as there was not another brick and mortar firearms dealer in town. Baker’s Ace Hardware is as competitive as possible. They are a hardware store that sells firearms, so they can sell under suggested retail prices. They are dedicated to matching prices as close as possible to meet the prices that the customer may have seen advertised elsewhere. They order through four of the largest distributors in the country, which gives the customer options and increases their availability. “We try to have a wide variety of brands and price points in order to appeal to the many different preferences of longtime firearm owners and customers who are purchasing their first firearms. We also transfer firearms from private party sellers,” added Kyle.
In addition to hunting supplies, the store sells YETI coolers. YETI brand is a high end, durable cooler for any outdoor, rough use. YETI has name brand recognition and the reputation as one of the best coolers on the market.
Desiring a large selection of quality products, the Medearis’ chose to bring Stihl Power equipment into their store. This line of outdoor power equipment requires a certified Stihl technician, which Kyle is. The store is currently in the process of hiring a repairperson to handle the maintance of the power heads when service is needed.
Of course the store has a diverse variety of essential hardware products from nuts and bolts to plumbing and tools. In fact, some of the store’s best sellers are tools, hardware, lawn and garden and plumbing supplies.
Medearis’ have also expanded their offerings of quality paints. Their paint line includes: Valspar, Clark and Kensington and Amy Howard paints.
Amy Howard is a one-step paint that is only sold in Ace Hardware stores. It is a chalk-based paint and requires no sanding or priming before painting. This paint can be used to refurbish old and worn out furniture, fabric, or metal.
Baker Ace Hardware offers free classes when Amy Howard presents her live online workshops for locals to try out the paint and explore the many ways to use this product.
One stop shopping
The Medearis’ are committed to making their store a one-stop-shop for their customer’s Christmas needs. They have stocked their shelves with more Christmas and holiday décor and gift ideas than ever before.
They have expanded their children’s toy/game aisle, as well as, new holiday decorations. The selection includes an array of outdoor decorations including lights, light clips, Christmas displays, and projectors. More indoor decorations are also available this year including: candles, blankets, artificial trees, lights, and stockings. They will also have a “Letters to Santa” mailbox where kids can drop off their Christmas wish list for Santa.
The store also has something for everyone on your list. The gift selection ranges from small appliances, bake ware, cookware, and utensils for the homemaker to tools, DYI items, pet products, children’s toys for the rest of the family. For those ‘hard-to-buy for’ people on your list, the store offers a gift card for your convenience.
The store also offers in store repair services for window/door screens, service and repair on STIHL power equipment and rents out carpet cleaners to the public.
It has only been two short years since the Medearis’ started their Ace Hardware Store in Baker. Many welcomed quality changes have and continue to take place. But one thing remains the same, “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks.”