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Family Hardware marks 40 years in business in Cape

May 24, 2019
By KATIE EGAN ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Family Hardware opened its doors in 1971. The old-fashioned hardware store is as much a piece of Cape Coral history as the Cape Coral Bridge.

It's not your typical tool and appliance store, either. It's one of the last remaining old-style hardware stores in the area.

"It's something you feel," said owner Jeremy Peterson. "It's not a set thing. The best I can explain it is it's more of a focus on carrying the odds and ends. In this area, window cranks are a thing. Where Lowe's typically doesn't have those anymore and they're fazing them out, old-school hardware would carry things very specific to the neighborhood."

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Family Hardware has been a staple in downtown Cap Coral since 1971.

Peterson, who took over the store in 2012, used another example.

"For plumbing, we have boxes of random fittings, and at other places that stuff wouldn't fly because it's not eye appealing," he said. "But that's the charm of an old school hardware store because sometimes you can bail someone out by just picking out that really random piece."

"That's what I attribute to old-school hardware. Maybe it doesn't have a price, but if it's been sitting there for 30 years and they need it, then there ya go."

Peterson thinks he's the store's fourth owner. It's always been a hardware store, but when it first opened it was called Cape Coral Hardware. Peterson thinks the name changed in the early '90s.

When he bought it, he decided to keep the name because of the store's good reputation.

"If it's not broke, don't fix it."

"It's the original hardware store (in Cape Coral) and for a while, it was the only hardware store," Peterson said. "I feel like it was probably the only one until Ace Hardware opened up in 2006 or 2007."

In a world full of big corporate stores, Peterson attributes the local shop's success to its customer service.

"We'll spend the same time selling someone a 10 cent nut or screw as a $6,000 grill. We don't look at it on a transaction basis, 'Like, oh, we just wasted 20 minutes and that person only bought a screw,' because you never know."

"I've had those scenarios lead to something else or they just keep coming back," he said. "We take a very long-term approach on how we look at people and customers and other places just don't do that."

And it shows in the amount of Family Hardware's repeat customers.

"I couldn't even put a number on the names I know and then there are the faces I know," Peterson said. "We treat everyone like you'd want to be treated and if we can't help you, we'll point you to someone who can. People just appreciate that."

Peterson also says it helps that Family Hardware has found its niche.

"You can't just carry everything that Lowe's carries," he explained. "You do that and you're just not going to make it. You have to find stuff that they don't do, fly under the radar, and have stuff that you're better at than them."

For example, Family Hardware is known for repairing window screens, and as far as Peterson knows, the big box stores don't do that.

Family Hardware also sells a popular grill called the Big Green Egg. When Peterson took over Family Hardware, there wasn't one grill in the store.

"Being in business, you're like, 'Well, how can I drive sales? I need a bigger ticket price; I can't rely on selling average $10 tickets.'

"The Big Green Egg is something we do very well with I think we're the biggest dealer in the area," he said.

About three to four months ago, Family Hardware also started selling high-end modular kitchens for around $8,000, "Which is weird for a hardware store," Peterson said. "Not a lot of people associate that with a hardware store."

The store also has a blade sharpening division in the building next door. Peterson acquired that two years after he bought Family Hardware.

"No one does that," he said. "We're the only ones in Southwest Florida. We ship blades all over country. We have people from all 50 states; I think we have about 1,900 customers right now."

Before taking over Family Hardware, Peterson was in the E-commerce business from 2006 to 2012 selling hardware online.

"It's a different animal," he said. "You're not actually there helping people in the store so my knowledge of hardware at first was limited."

But he says he likes working in a brick and mortar store better.

"When you sell stuff online, you really only hear about the problems," he said. "Here you see that you helped them in the form of them coming back or them just thanking you.

"When I first started in the business, I really had to lean on my staff because I didn't know that much about hardware, but now I have people coming in asking for me and asking for my help."

People don't hesitate to let the staff at Family Hardware know how much they appreciate them, too.

When Hurricane Irma hit, they were one of the last stores in the area that stayed open.

"We were putting up our shelters while the winds were blowing and we were still open," Peterson said. "We were just selling whatever. We didn't have any essentials when it was that late in. People were buying pool noodles and stuff, just anything to secure the house. And we stayed open and people really appreciated that. It worked out very well. And a lot of people recognized that."

Peterson also knows he couldn't have done it without the right people.

"I can't help everyone who comes through the door," he said. "My staff is a big part of what we do. We're like a family."



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