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

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

Employees: 90 (two

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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