A.W. Brinkley Hardware | Gates, NC
Q: Describe your business:
A.W. Brinkley Hardware is an independent, family-owned retail hardware store in operation since 1979. We’re the old-timey, country hardware store stocking anything you might need and the things that you can’t find at the big box stores. We also have a beautiful garden center specializing in mowers and in the last three years, we have started selling and repairing small engines.
Q: What’s your story?
In 1979, my father, Buddy Brinkley, bought out W.H. Goodman Hardware. It evolved to carry the hardware and supplies needed for the rural community around here and in 1989, we moved into this larger location. I started working here as a teenager before getting degrees in Engineering and Architecture. My father passed away in 2000 and my mother and I incorporated A.W. Brinkley Hardware. Since then we’ve been able to bring my wife, Jodie Brinkley, in as an Office Manager.
Q: How has the SBTDC been able to help?
We’re working on revising our business plan and developing new ways to drive traffic toward the store. A nearby paper plant closed and we have a lot less traffic coming by here. That, combined with the city pushing to centralize businesses, has created a real need to motivate people to come out this way. One solution is the small engine service and repair. We’re seeing local customers but Lowes Hardware is also outsourcing a lot of that service to us.
One of the most important ways the SBTDC has influenced the business was by helping us receive a workforce development grant. We’re using it to send two of our mechanics to specialized training for standby generators. We will be the only business in 75 miles licensed to work on these types of generators. Plus, we took a leap of faith by expanding our engine parts department by $20,000. Between the two, we’re looking forward to the results.
We worked with the SBTDC’s Strategy and Growth Services on two days of training and development for the management team here, and we are now undergoing customer service and sales training for all of the staff.
Q: What impact have you seen on the business?
In the last year, A.W. Brinkley Hardware has increased sales by 15%. It has been hard work and has taken some innovative marketing. We are opening a nearby farmer’s market and my mother is using part of her land as a shooting range. We just added another mower manufacturer and opened a new line of credit which we are using to expand the store in anticipation of future growth.
The SBTDC’s help has been invaluable. Before their involvement, we were a family owned business lacking organizational structure. But, once we brought them into our world, we changed our mentality and are moving forward one bite at a time.
Story originally featured in the SBTDC’s 2013-2014 Annual Report.
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