Jeremy Peterson decided to soft launch his new hardware store. But in recent days, with the formation and threat of Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida, business has been booming.
Family Hardware opened Aug. 2 at 13101 McGregor Blvd. in south Fort Myers in what had been a vape shop and massage parlor. Peterson bought the two adjacent buildings in July 2021 for $625,000, then connected them and turned them into a new family-owned hardware store.
“We took a vape shop and a dingy building and turned it into something that could better serve the community,” Peterson said. “A lot of people thanked us for not only bringing a hardware store to the area, but also for cleaning up the area.”
Brian Bubenheimer was one of those people. He does interior and exterior siding, windows, doors, painting, tiling and drywall work for Busy Bee Quality Home Improvements LLC. He stopped at the store and raved about it.
“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened in the region,” Bubenheimer proclaimed. ” That’s wonderful. Now I don’t have to go to Home Depot or Lowe’s anymore. Welcome, man. I’m so excited.”
National chain stores pushed many neighborhood hardware stores to close. Because of this trend, there was a niche for a new one.
“There’s a need for the Home Depots and Lowe’s around the world,” Peterson said. “I mean, these are stores of a few hundred thousand square feet. We are five thousand square feet. We can’t sell everything they sell. They have their place in the market. The same reason Walgreen’s can coexist with Wal-Mart. One is more convenient and quick. One is the big box.
Family Hardware has all the basic hardware – nails, screws, tools, paint, shovels, cleaners, and more. – and hurricane supplies. Tie-downs for storm shutters, flashlights, batteries and gas cans are top sellers, Peterson said. That, and the wasp spray. This is because homeowners who close their windows often find wasp nests outside.
“There’s a fine line to having everything and not too much,” Peterson said of hurricane supplies. “With our weekly truck deliveries and the way this storm came in pretty quickly, what we got is what we got.”
The hardware store concept has also been mostly resistant to online shopping trends. Peterson also owns the first Family Hardware store, which he purchased in 2012, at 622 SE 47th Terrace in Cape Coral.
“E-commerce has done a lot,” Peterson said. “It’s taken a toll on places like Bed Bath and Beyond and stuff like that. Because you can do your research and then buy it. But the hardware is more like an immediate need.
“Half the time people come here and they don’t know exactly what they need. The second thing is if you buy something small, like a small fitting, it costs maybe 89 cents. But if you buy it online, they have to ship it to you. So you pay four, five, six dollars because of the freight. So you really don’t save any money if you buy online. So we’re pretty well insulated from e-commerce, in a way.