It’s the week of Thanksgiving and there’s a lot to look forward to: family, food comas and Small Business Saturday. Sure, the big boxes have a few great sales, but who really wants to go shopping at midnight after spending an entire day watching football and eating into oblivion? Here’s an idea – sleep in on Friday and celebrate Small Business Saturday at businesses like East Grand Fork Hardware.
Craig Buckalew has been in the hardware industry since his first job at the age of 16, cleaning and stocking shelves at the local hardware store his dad managed in Montana. Upon his graduation from the University of Montana, he fell right back into the work he loves. In 1983, he embarked on his first hardware business venture, becoming part-owner of a Plentywood, Mont. hardware store. In 1990, Craig and his wife Kay decided to move to East Grand Forks, Minn. with their three children Brandon, Cody and Matt to open East Grand Forks Hardware.
Other than the store’s location, not much has changed in the past 22 years. EGF Hardware Hank is still a family owned and operated business dedicated to serving its employees, customers and community. At EGF hardware, employees are like family. In fact, many employees are family. Craig and Kay’s oldest son Brandon is the general manager. Among his co-workers are several mother-son duos, related cousins and employees who have been with EGF Hardware so long that they are considered family.
One of the first instructions new employees are given at EGF Hardware is to get to know the customers. This not only makes for a more fun work environment for team members, it shows customers that employees at EGF Hardware truly care, and not just about how their new STIHL leaf blower is working out but about how their kid’s school project turned out or how their family barbeque went. It is this kind of commitment to customers that you simply can’t find at big box stores.
You also won’t find the cell phone numbers of the owners posted on the front door of big box hardware stores. The Buckalews only live a few streets away from their store so when a sump pump goes out at 10:30 p.m., they’re there to help their neighbors get what they need to fix it. The Buckalews have made plenty of house-calls – even to install items that weren’t purchased at EGF Hardware.
The East Grand Forks community reaps the benefits of EGF Hardware in many ways. Not only are the Buckalews extremely devoted to their customers, they support them outside of the store as well. Because they live in the East Grand Forks community, they try their best to be a part of it. They donate to local schools and booster clubs and sponsor individual sports teams in the area. Small businesses donate about twice as much per employee to charitable organizations as large businesses, so by spending money at EGF Hardware, you’re also giving back to the community.
This Saturday and any time you need a new chain saw, sink or key, check out your local hardware store first. You’ll come across businesses like EGF Hardware who don’t worry about the bottom line; they worry about you – the customer.