MyLife With Jennifer Anderson

Date: July 01, 2014

For this small business owner, it’s not about what she sells. It’s about how she helps.

When you’re in the retail business, liking the product you’re selling is a must. Yet Jennifer Anderson, owner of two hardware stores in California, says what she likes most about her business is not just the tools she sells. Rather, it’s helping customers solve a problem with those tools.

NFIB Member: Jennifer Anderson

Businesses: Davis Ace Hardware and Aggie Ace, Davis, Calif.

Employees: 90 (two locations)

What is the best part of your day?

My job is so varied, but the best part is when I get out of my office and can be out on the sales floor helping customers. I like satisfying customers’ needs and being able to solve problems—the hardware business is kind of fun that way. A lot of our customers are coming in to solve an issue. There’s great satisfaction if you can help them work through that and resolve the problem.

Let’s say a customer has bugs that are eating his plants. If you happen to have just the right tool or glue or solution, you’re solving a true problem that they can cross off their list. An employee of mine knew the answer, and the customer knew what to do. I think that’s how people become grateful.

How do you help employees become more knowledgeable on skills like carpentry— or problems like bug-eating plants?

We certainly do a lot of cross-training—Ace Hardware provides some great training, and so does the North American Retail Hardware Association. We have some training for our individual niche areas like housewares and the pet industry. We also have stacks and stacks of trade magazines: everything from garden and nurseries to lumber and building materials to hardware.

What do you love about running a small business?

For me, it’s the commitment to my employees and our sense of family within our business. We believe in each of our employees and look to make them grow. It’s fun to see people who worked for us in high school or college go out and come back and say, “I used to work here back when…” In the retail industry, we are often a stage in someone’s career life or sometimes are his or her career. It’s fun watching people grow. 

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