The hardware industry has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. Hardware parts and components have fueled the economic boom and growth and development in several industrialized nations and have become an integral part of business in just about every major industry.

The stores in this category engage in the sale of a number of basic hardware lines: tools, builders’ hardware, paint, glass, cutlery, housewares and household appliances. Some even offer a modified line of groceries and clothing.

The industry faces challenges despite an improving economy. Competition from the Big Box home improvement stores threatens hardware stores, since consumers choose making purchases from retailers that offer a large variety or products. Since the introduction of these do-it-yourself stores (Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menards), the landscape of the American hardware store has changed.

Independently operated hardware stores continue to find a healthy niche.

In the ’80s there were many neighborhood hardware stores, and people stayed in the neighborhood to shop. Then the Big Box stores came into the market. Presently, there is a backlash to frequent neighborhood stores again. Personalized service is one key way to keep customers. Smaller local stores can’t compete on price but they can compete on service. Talking to your customers is very important as Big Box stores are unfriendly.

To be successful in a local store you need to differentiate your store and find niches that work. One example of this strategy would be to include fixing, repairing and maintaining old hardware — Also stocking older types of tools.

Another thing you can do is add products that appeal to females — decorative pieces, Fiestaware, duct tape in colors and patterns, and fun cookie cutters. You might even consider putting in a Soda Fountain and a sitting area where people can read – How to magazines and books.

Your small local hardware store needs to have heart.