Ask an expert - business profile - Fuller's Home and Hardware
Last updated 4/14/2020 at 8:55am | View PDF
During this season of social distancing and sheltering in place, operating a small business has arguably never been more challenging.
Paula Goss, owner and manager of Fuller's Home & Hardware, 35 E. First St., is grateful to just be open during the stringent COViD-19 restrictions.
"We're lucky that we're considered essential," Goss remarked.
She said the store experienced high demand for household and cleaning supplies at the outset of the pandemic, just as other area retailers did.
"We were busy, with customers buying whatever they needed," she related. "Even doctors were coming for their offices, making sure they had enough bleach and masks."
Shelves have been largely replenished and activity has settled down. Goss encouraged people to call ahead to see if a item is in stock and to take advantage of the store's delivery service.
"Just call and we'll deliver it. Or we'll run it outside to your car," she said. "If we don't have something, I can give them at least some time frame, or see if they're comfortable with using a different product."
Aside from its selection of in-store merchandise, Goss said handyman services comprise a significant portion of the operation. From carpentry to electrical work and plumbing to painting, Goss she has crew members to meet nearly every need. Most of all, she stressed, they do an honest day's work.
"We're very fortunate with the crew that we have because they're good people," she said, noting that her employee roster looks largely the same as it did when the business took over the former Soukup's Hardware in 2004. "I'm really lucky. I've had to replace maybe two people in the last 10 years."
Diagnosing the customer's issue correctly is her mission.
"I try to make sure I understand what their needs are at home, so I can make sure whatever they need, I get them the right men to get the job done as quickly as possible for them," she said.
Goss acknowledged that some people are uneasy in the current climate having workers in their home, and several have canceled previously scheduled appointments.
"You have to do what you're comfortable with right now," she said.
Spring break, normally a lull point, has been busier this year, with many homeowners eschewing travel plans to follow stay-at-home guidelines. Goss said rapid response to service calls is a primary objective.
"If we can't get there right away, we'll be there the next day," she stressed.
She expressed gratitude for local residents that support Fuller's Home & Hardware and, more broadly, small businesses in town.
"People are still supporting the small stores. They like that you can walk to your hardware store and get whatever you like," she said.
And reliability is key to maintaining that support.
"If you can trust someone to come into your home, you feel like you're in a good community and that you can call on (the business) at any time," Goss said.
She relishes the positive feedback she gets.
"I like when (customers) call up and say that our workers were kind and left them with the feeling that job was done properly," Goss said. "If we can do it, we'll do it for you."
- by Ken Knutson