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Beating Back the Big Boxes

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

How does McGuckin Hardware in Boulder do it? Home Depot opened up a mile away five years ago. Walmart’s trying to join the neighborhood. Yet McGuckin is a staple, an institution, an experience.

They’re like the Nordstrom of the crunchy Boulder world:

  • Their 250 green-vested staff are ubiquitous on their 60,000 sq-ft sales floor.
  • Their staff are super-knowledgeable.
  • They are dog-friendly, kid-friendly, and just plain friendly.
  • The huge green aisle numbers painted on the floor make it easy to navigate.
  • They have a treasure hunt area in center store (like at Costco).
  • Their biannual tent sales are epic.
  • They have a wide but not comprehensive selection more notable for its breadth than pizzazz. From pipe clamps to lava lamps, planting soil to tin foil.

Most importantly, they know their audience and cater to them. They deliver what their competitors can’t. And they are thoroughly local. It’s a strategy employed well by another Boulder institution, the Boulder Bookstore.

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