Reinventing the Hardware Store


The old-fashioned hardware store is getting a makeover, courtesy of Sheree Johnston. Johnston, whose husband ran East Sac Hardware for more than two decades, took control of the family store two years ago, when sales were sagging. Johnston felt it needed a woman’s touch. So she remodeled the Folsom Boulevard store, updated the signage, and added a garden center and lumberyard. She brought in gifts, collectibles, toys and cookware, installed a popcorn machine, expanded store hours and added services such as knife sharpening and lamp repair. And she invested $25,000 in a computerized custom paint-tinting center. (“We have more paint technology than Home Depot,” she brags.) Some things remain unchanged: You still can buy a single nail, nut or sprinkler part, and the store sells rope and wire the old-fashioned way—by the foot. Customers continue to come in for free advice on how to fix a leaky toilet or install a ceiling fan. But now, instead of catering just to good old boys, East Sac Hardware is female friendly, too. The result? Sales were up more than 20 percent last year, and they’re on track to be even better in 2010.