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Hit the Road With Renee: Home Improvement History and Theatrics in Massachusetts

On the third day of the NRHA New England Road Trip, my colleague Kevin and I were eager to visit and learn more about two outstanding operations in Massachusetts. We were also excited to reach Boston and enjoy a taste of the historic city.

Day 3: Massachusetts

Early Wednesday morning, Kevin and I went to the home office of Aubuchon Hardware in Westminster, Massachusetts, to meet with the company’s vice president, Josiah Gates. He gave us a tour of the office and showed us photos and fascinating artifacts from the company’s 111-year history. (Check out NRHA’s Instagram for exclusive shots from the trip so far!)

We even had the opportunity to sit down and interview Gates to learn more about how the company operates today, his time in the hardware industry and Aubuchon Hardware’s strong relationship with the NRHA. My conversation with Gates will be featured in an upcoming episode of the “Tell Me More…” podcast. Subscribe today to stream the latest episode the moment it’s released.

After our conversation wrapped up, Gates and his colleague Kenneth Moore, vice president of merchandising, took us to the nearby Aubuchon Hardware in Gardner, Massachusetts. The store was recently redesigned to feature easier in-store navigation and greater efficiency for shoppers. Gates and Moore also walked us through some of their in-store merchandising tactics and how the company’s mobile app is bringing new possibilities.

Soon, we were headed to Boston to meet with Jim Robichau, owner of Backstage Hardware. I first spoke with Robichau almost a year ago for a profile of his business in the January 2019 issue of Hardware Retailing, so it was great to finally tour his store and meet him in person. Backstage Hardware is unique in that in addition to being a full-line hardware store, it’s also a theatrical supply business, carrying products set designers, theater technicians and film crews use for productions across the city.

After our time at Backstage Hardware, Kevin and I went to grab a late lunch at Legal Sea Foods. I dropped Kevin off at the airport before starting a drive to New Hampshire to continue the New England Road Trip.  I had four store visits ahead of me, so I was excited to get to sleep early and continue strong to visit the next set of home improvement innovators!

Make sure you stay tuned on NRHA’s Instagram and Facebook to see where we’re at and follow along on Hardware Retailing each day for recaps of the stores visited on the New England Road 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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