Serving our community

Robert and Vicki Amberg, owners of Gerstner Hardware in Glenn, Mich., recently proved their commitment to their surrounding community by re-locating a nearby Post Office designated to close and incorporating it into their store.

The story reminded me of my Uncle Jerry, proprietor of an independent store stuffed with hardware SKUs and located in South Newfane, Vt.

Uncle Jerry, like the Ambergs, was not one to ignore the needs of his community, so when the hunters (local and visitor) who came into his store complained about the distance to the nearest reporting station, he signed up the store to be a new option for them. Similar needs of the local community began to be addressed as Uncle Jerry became the local butcher, Scout Troup leader, Justice of the Peace and, like the Ambergs, postmaster.

The store had everything from prime rib to hand tools.

Like most independent retailers, Uncle Jerry loved surprising his community with new products and better service. It is in that spirit that Home Channel News is excited to present two new products for the largest part of our industry community, independent retailers and dealers.

But most — that’s right, most (by a large margin) — of Home Channel News readers are independent retailers and building supply dealers, operating on or near what we loosely refer to as “Main Street,” and HCN is always looking for ways to help this community compete.

We have been working hard on two new digital products that will serve the independent community of store owners that read Home Channel News: HARDWARE STORE CONNECT and TOOLKIT HR.

HARDWARE STORE CONNECT will be launched this month as yet another digital extension of Home Channel News. Since 1997, Home Channel News has been the industry leader, providing our business community with news every day from our award-winning website.

HARDWARE STORE CONNECT will take our vast digital audience into a new level of community communication. It will be a way for hardware store owners to communicate ideas, challenges and solutions for products, consumer sales, marketing, operations and more. Store owners in Vermont will be able to trade ideas with stores in Michigan, regardless of co-op affiliation, size or volume. This FREE service will give hardware store owners new digital tools to post photos, videos, business data and more.

It will be a place where the hardware store community can go to compete better.

TOOLKIT HR will also be launched this month, a new service for independent businesses in our market to help solve critical human resources issues for small operators. Home Channel News is partnering with The Society for Human Resource Management, the leading association in North America of HR professionals to create a new digital tool for owners/operators in the home channel community.

We know that many HR-related challenges that occur on a “Main Street” level are extremely daunting for small businesses: hiring, firing, training, safety and other employee-related practices vary wildly from state to state, and the national co-op and buying group capabilities are limited in their ability to assist the retailer or dealer on a local level.

TOOLKIT HR will fill this service gap with digital tools to help independent retailers and dealers manage HR issues, including a 24/7 call center for subscribers.

When you see a need in your community, as did the Ambergs and my Uncle Jerry, you try and step up and make an effort to help. If you do, your business wins, because your customers are better served. That is what Home Channel News’ two new products have been built to do: Serve our community.

jreynolds@homechannelnews.com