Everyday Hometown opens in Waupaca
New retailer offers wide variety of products
By James Card
The old Shopko building is now home to a store that is a cross between a Shopko, Hardware Hank, a sporting goods shop and a lawnmower dealership.
Called Everyday Hometown, the store carries Hardware Hank-sourced goods, along with Ashley Furniture and Bad Boy Mowers.
This retail space was brought back to life by the Becker family and they arrived in Waupaca by chance.
The family is based in Monroe and the father, Jim Becker, runs a Bad Boy Mower dealership that is located in a hardware store and ice cream shop. He is one of the top dealers in the northern part of the country for Arkansas-based Bad Boy Mowers.
When a long-time employee wanted to move to Waupaca to be closer to his wife, Becker opened a store up here for him to sell mowers. That lasted until the employee retired and he sold the building to what is now Service Power and Sports on County Trunk QQ. That left Becker without a physical space to sell his mowers.
“So I decided let’s find a place to do it, and while I was looking, I knew of this Shopko building and United Hardware has been successful in old Shopko locations,” said Becker.
United Hardware is the parent company of Hardware Hank. Its business arrangement is like that of a co-op where a dealer must be a member and own stock. The company is owned by the members and it gives them the buying power fill up retail shelves with a huge amount of products in a short amount of time.
His first phone call with United Hardware came in one morning and by the next day, Bob Eastman, a district manager from Northfield, Minnesota, was already sitting in his office ready to bring the business to life.
“It’s been crazy, the amount of help and guidance we have had. When they looked at this one, they thought it was one of the best ones they ever looked at,” said Becker.
Consumer needs in Waupaca
United Hardware did an extensive demographic study and looked at consumer needs in Waupaca.
They studied everything from food, hardware, furniture and auto purchasing patterns. They found that consumer needs existed for the kinds of departments that would be built into the store.
“Waupaca was a very interesting market simply because they had a Kmart in there, they had a Shopko in there and the reason why those two stores went out of business wasn’t because the town couldn’t support them. It because they were poorly run organizations,” said Eastman.
Eastman also pointed out that the Becker family was fortunate to acquire 90% of the display shelving that Shopko abandoned. With current supply chain shortages, he estimated that shelving fixtures wouldn’t be available for another six months.
The story has a far-ranging mix: wild bird seed and chicken supplies, clothing, Milwaukee power tools, a paint department, a plumbing and electrical section, ladders, sporting goods, bikes, toys, hunting and fishing gear, Ashley furniture, home goods and small appliances.
Becker said every week since January United Hardware staffers have been in town giving him consultation. He said they have spent a lot of money at local hotels and restaurants during their time in Waupaca while also exploring the area and researching competition and opportunities.
Jim Becker isn’t handling this all alone.
His wife Kathy Becker recently retired after 30 years at Wal-Mart and brings a vast amount of retail work experience to the team.
His daughter Brianna Becker is the store manager and she bought a house in Waupaca at the end of January and was fully moved in by March. She said she loves Waupaca but has been so busy with the store opening she has not had much time to get out and explore the area.
Becker does not believe in playing retail store layout games, where customers are forced to walk through maze-like aisles to get one item and then be tempted to buy more items along the way.
“I want all my aisles straight through, so if you know that this is down that aisle, you can go there, get it and get out. So if a guy is in a hurry, it’s good for him. I decided to make it more convenient and nicer and maybe people will come here more often,” he said.