Shady Creek Hardware Finds Success Through Distinctive Business Model
Writer / Lois Tomaszewski
Owner Joe Fry knows Shady Creek Hardware in Wolcottville is not a typical hardware store, and that is fine by him. It’s a small operation, but one that serves his community and his customers, and offers several benefits not often found in other retail stores these days.
A typical hardware store sells products used for home improvement or home repairs. Often these stores have paint, gardening supplies, some appliances, lighting, flooring and other products. Customers can come into these typical stores, shop around, make their purchases and leave. Shady Creek is different in that it specializes in specific product areas, and the staff prefers to engage with customers via phone. Almost all sales are shipped free of charge.
Shady Creek started out offering construction supplies and power tools. Fry then added woodworking supplies such as router bits, saw blades, wood glue and other needs – supplies and tools that local wood shops and woodworkers need.
Woodworking is simply the craft of making items from wood. It includes cabinet and furniture making, wood carving, joinery, carpentry and woodturning. Some woodworkers rely on power tools, others prefer hand tools, and others use a combination.
“We stock woodworking and construction supplies, and prefer to ship all of our sales,” Fry says. “Our customers just call us after 1 p.m. and tell us what they want, and we ship it.”
Cordless, handheld power tools are some of the main retail items at Shady Creek Hardware. Fry handles most major brands such as Makita, Milwaukee and DEWALT. These tools, in particular, have a three-year warranty.
Fry opened the store about a year and a half ago. “People in this area needed a hardware store,” Fry says.
Wolcottville straddles the county line between Noble and LaGrange counties. Established in 1849, the population is currently about 1,000 people. Much of the area is rural, with a mix of farms and lake cottages for a seasonal population.
A former factory worker, Fry was looking for an opportunity to allow him to work from home, as well as a place he could work alongside family. He had no previous experience in running a hardware store, but he has welcomed the opportunities it continues to provide. It was a way to meet his own needs and provide a service to his community.
“It is a family operation and we intend to keep it that way,” Fry says.
Many of his customers are from Amish communities in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, but all potential customers are welcome. Business is conducted via phone in most cases.
Because of the focus on phone orders and the small staff, new customers should call first to find out if the store stocks what they are looking for. He is sure that construction workers and woodworkers will be satisfied with his product selection and reasonable prices.
Fry says he strives for customer satisfaction and tries to offer great pricing.
Fry was raised in LaGrange. After he married, the family moved to Wolcottville, where Shady Creek Hardware is located. Orders are shipped from the business out to customers near and far.
Contact Shady Creek Hardware at 260-350-3460. Fry can be reached at this number after 1 p.m.