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Hit the Road With Renee: Reliable Operations in New Hampshire, Fun Vibes in Vermont

After dropping my NRHA colleague Kevin off at the airport Wednesday evening, I made my way to Exeter, New Hampshire. I checked into The Exeter Inn, a boutique hotel that was built in 1932 to host visitors to the Phillips Exeter Academy. It was comfortable and cozy so I decided to go to bed early to prepare for a another invigorating day of store visits and travel on the fourth day of NRHA’s New England Road Trip.

Day 4: New Hampshire, Vermont

On Thursday morning I left the hotel early to make my way to East Coast Lumber in East Hampstead, New Hampshire. While there, I interviewed manager Thomas Hampton and sales manager Eric Murphy. We talked about the operation, which primarily focuses on providing remodeling resources like lumber, hardware and rental items. I then toured the building, which has a large hardware store on the first floor and a design center upstairs.

Then I made my way to Edmund’s Ace Hardware in Antrim, New Hampshire, where I met owners Rick Edmunds Sr. and Lorraine Edmunds. I also got the chance to meet their son Rick Edmunds, who manages the Antrim store. The family told me all about the hardware operation they’ve owned for more than 74 years. The Antrim location features the vibes of an old school hardware store, with original wood floors that creak when you walk on them. Downstairs is where their team is able to complete window and screen repairs and fix items like lamps and offer customers paint mixing.

My third visit of the day was at Gilford True Value and Gilford Home Center. Both businesses are less than a minute drive from each other but serve wholly different needs for locals. While at the store, I met Chris Finethy, who owns both businesses with his father Bill Finethy. The recently bought Gilford True Value and according to Chris, the store serves DIYers with a variety of products, including seed, feed, hardware and power equipment. Down the road, Gilford Home Center is a more pro-focused business offering hardware, lumber and building materials to customers since 1986.

Later in the afternoon, I headed up to Cabot, Vermont. I was very excited to go to Harry’s Hardware & the Den. The store has been around since 1896 but it wasn’t until 2017 that they introduced something new to the operation: The Den, which is a bar located within the hardware store. During my visit, a local musician was playing and the bar was packed with locals happy to enjoy Vermont beers, listen to good music and laugh with friends under a home improvement roof.

After the music ended, I made my way to Stowe, Vermont. I was so excited to get some sleep before my final day on the NRHA New England Road Trip on Friday. Stay tuned on NRHA’s Instagram and Facebook to see recaps from the trip.

About Renee Changnon

Renee Changnon is the retail outreach coordinator for NRHA. She meets with retailers in their stores and at industry events and introduces them to the services NRHA provides. Renee previously worked as a member of the NRHA communications team. She earned a degree in visual journalism from Illinois State University, where she served as the features editor for the school newspaper. After college, she implemented marketing and promotions initiatives at Jimmy John’s franchise locations across the country. She enjoys exploring books with her book club, Netflix marathons and hosting goat yoga at her apartment complex. Renee Changnon 317-275-9442 rchangnon@nrha.org

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