Warren's focus is serving its customers
By Jennifer Pauly
Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce President
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce Warren's Village Hardware as the recipient of the Lewiston Business of the Year Award.
The Lewiston Advisory Committee, comprised of Lewiston businesses and organizations that assist the chamber in providing a business honoree, selected a recipient from a pool of nominations showing dedication and service to the Lewiston community.
Warren's Village Hardware provides everything you need in a hardware store - from supplies to customer service.
Family-run businesses are the backbone of our communities. Owner Gail Warren along with her husband, Bill, and daughter, Ashley, created a business where their family dynamic makes every customer feel welcome.
Gail and her family opened Warren's Village Hardware in 2011. They will be celebrating their five-year anniversary later this spring. Their staff has grown to include two additional part-time employees: Joe Conti and Katie Michel.
From his first job at a hardware store back in 1968 to co-owning a hardware store in Niagara Falls for seven years, Bill knew that, when the opportunity came around to purchase the Lewiston store, it was meant to be. Gail and Bill turned something they enjoy into a successful business for their family.
The location at 185 Portage Road has been a hardware store since the 1970s, changing ownership and business names a few times. Before then, the location was a car wash - remnants of that business are felt throughout the store floors.
With Western New York having four distinct seasons, inventory is often updated. Weather changes affect the buying patterns of customers. This winter was unseasonably warm, which changed buying patterns from previous years.
This past November, Bill began a three-month changeover with a new supplier that resulted in an additional 20,000 new products that can now be accessed from the store. This upgrade resulted in a new spring and summer seasonal inventory, as well as the ability to order more specific products for customer projects. A better pricing strategy was also achieved from working with a new supplier, with prices that are comparable with the lower-priced, larger stores.
But nothing can compare to the staff's firsthand knowledge. With the electrical and cosmetic design experience of the owners, customers receive personalized service from the moment they step into the store. Customers range from local residents to contractors. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising for Warren's Village Hardware. New customers are often referred by homeowners who completed their renovation projects with help from the store staff - securing supplies as needed.
Over the past five years, Warren's has seen a new influx of female customers who are comfortable coming into the store and finding what they need. Thanks to the Internet, customers can access any information they need on a certain product and come prepared to complete their purchase or order.
In addition to residents, contractors and fellow business owners have also come to rely on the staff to meet their hardware needs.
Warren's Village Hardware is active in the community. Some of the organizations/events it supports include the Polar Bear Swim in Olcott, Habitat for Humanity, Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue, Lewiston's fire companies, the Lewiston Recreation Department, the Lewiston Garden Club, St. Peter's R.C. School and the Boy Scouts.
The chamber staff has also been known to call on Bill for help with small tasks that require a hammer and nail! Gail, Bill, Ashley, Joe and Katie are always willing to help out and provide the best service around.
Future plans include a greater awareness of the new inventory supply that is now available as well as offering tool rentals. With the influx of younger homeowners moving into the area, the staff is noticing customer needs are growing and they want to be able to always provide.
Customers are a priority for Warren's Village Hardware. When asked what she feels is the best thing about having a business in this community, Gail was quick to respond, "The people. Great people make great customers!"
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce and the Lewiston Advisory Committee proudly congratulate Warren's Village Hardware, the 2016 Lewiston Business of the Year.