Family hardware store survives on Main Street

Is brick-and-mortar on Main Street USA dead?

Patzer’s Hardware Hank says no. For 50 years, Hardware Hank has stood tall on Main Street Marshall thriving in a tough retail environment of recessions, big box retailers and Amazon.

This week, the Patzer family is celebrating 50 years of business on Main Street in Marshall. Archie Patzer arrived in Marshall in 1967 to operate the Gamble’s store. The store moved to its present Main Street location in 1984. In those days, the biggest competitor was Coast to Coast located across the street.

The store turned into Hardware Hank in 1987. As time went on, the big box retailers moved in and then there was internet retail giant Amazon. The Patzer family maneuvered through it all and survived for 50 years.

Archie Patzer worked hard to promote his store in the early years. But his son, Lyle, points to the customer experience for the family’s success. Customers can justify their trip to Hardware Hank instead of shopping online because of the unique shopping experience. Lyle says customers can get in and out quickly, and he will even carry out their merchandise.

“We will continue on my dad’s heritage and continue to serve the community,” Lyle Patzer told the Independent. “We want to stay in downtown. The option is always there to move out to the big boys (large retail stores). But this keeps it more that small town, very friendly (atmosphere). You can get in and you can park in the back parking lot, walk in the back door and I will carry it (merchandise) out for you. And you are out of here in six minutes.”

A recent report by the Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes entrepreneurship, makes the argument that “department stores are dying, dragging malls down with them to the grave.” And the Main Street businesses that for decades large competitors have “pounded into the dust” are now doing quite well.

Maybe that’s true. There many downtowns located in small communities that are struggling to keep a thriving retail alive. The retail landscape will probably remain tough.

However, Hardware Hank has demonstrates the right business strategy to survive on Main Street that other small retail store fronts could follow.

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