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Oklahoma Retailers Brewing With Passion for Hardware and Coffee

 In addition to knowing the home improvement industry, brothers Seth and Mahlon Boehs discovered their shared love of a good cup of coffee. That interest led to their venture of roasting, packaging and selling coffee in one of their two Oklahoma hardware retail stores, Boehs Building Supply.

From Lumber to Hardware

Seth and Mahlon Boehs started 7th Ave. Roastery seven years ago. Today, they sell the coffee online, in their two stores, the local grocery store and to commercial accounts.

Seth Boehs spent time as a child with his father, Doug Boehs, building and repairing homes. So when his family took their knowledge in construction, lumber and building materials to build a hardware store in 2004, Boehs and his three siblings all got involved.

“Typically people have a hardware store and get into lumber, but we were the opposite,” Boehs says.

While all four of Doug’s children were involved in the business in the beginning, Seth and Mahlon are now co-owners of the business as their other brother Cory and sister Jerilyn pursued other interests.

The family has never been afraid to try new niches and explore categories outside of the typical hardlines good, Boehs says.

“Almost immediately, we wanted to have a specialty in stoves, fireplaces and grills,” he says. “In 2010, we added a fireplace and grill showroom in the back of the store. When Mahlon and I started learning about selling coffee and the roasting business, we weren’t scared to give it a try.”

A Passion Becomes a Product

Every Tuesday afternoon, Seth Boeh goes to the brothers roastery in town to roast that weeks special order as well as coffee needed for their stores and their other local clients.

“I remember going to cafes and having a cup of coffee, which would maybe have notes of blueberry or chocolate, and it always got me asking more questions and wanting to learn how it was done,” Boehs says. “I learned that the unique flavors came from the roasting process, plus the type of coffee beans, where they’re grown, how high they’re grown—there are just so many factors. My interest in roasting my own coffee and potentially making money from it happened pretty organically.”

In 2010, Seth and Mahlon started buying coffee and selling it in the hardware store. As they kept searching for better and fresher coffee, they learned more about the coffee industry and decided they wanted to roast coffee themselves. Family and friends pitched in to help them buy their first coffee roaster.

“Everyone could see how excited we were about the idea of roasting our own coffee,” Boehs says. “They told us that if they helped buy it, we would be able to supply them coffee. We quickly realized that as our coffee demand grew, we would need a bigger roaster.”

When a shop opened up in Helena, Oklahoma, that had more space for a larger roaster, they decided to go for it. They bought a commercial roaster and landed a coffee shop as their first client. The coffee business has been growing ever since.

In addition to running the hardware business, which takes up a lot of time for the brothers, the coffee business requires attention, too. Mahlon does the logistics of the business, while Seth is the roaster.

“Every Tuesday afternoon, I am roasting the coffee at our roast shop,” he says. “I roast specialty orders, and we can have anywhere from five to 12 batches of coffee to roast every week. We stock our two hardware stores, the local grocery stores, and we take special orders. Plus, we have a contract with the state of Oklahoma correctional facility for 600 to 1,200 pounds of commercial coffee per month.”

The business, called 7th Ave. Roastery, has evolved and grown in the years since the brothers first started roasting coffee out of a workshop at Mahlon’s home. While the goal would be to expand even more, Boehs says running two hardware stores and operating a coffee roasting business can be pretty time consuming.

For now, the Boehs will continue selling their coffee online and locally, but their foray into the coffee industry may deepen if they start selling to a coffee shop again, Boehs says. Either way, their hunt for the freshest and best cup of coffee led them to 7th Ave. Roastery, and although there aren’t many serious coffee drinkers in the town, Boehs says anytime he’s in one of the stores, customers ask him questions about coffee that he asked when his coffee adventure began seven years prior.

“In our town of 400 people, there are not many coffee fanatics,” Boehs says. “But in addition to showcasing and selling coffee in both hardware stores, we have a station for them to try the coffee in the store as well. From this, my biggest takeaway is that the fresher the coffee, the better the taste, and I share that with my customers.”  

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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