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2016 Young Retailer of the Year: Christian Herrick

Christian HerrickMultiple Stores
Randy’s Do it Best Hardware, Timberville, Virginia

After moving back to Virginia with his family in 2009, Christian Herrick was looking for a paycheck, so he started working part-time for his wife’s parents, Randy and Shirley Andes, at Randy’s Do it Best Hardware. Realizing he enjoyed the hardware business, he quickly moved up to a full-time position and began finding opportunities to improve the business. Soon, he became a manager-in-training.

In 2010, Herrick put together a plan to open a new store in Bridgewater, Virginia. The owners approved and he quickly became store manager of the new location. He took charge of renovations and was responsible for getting the new store off the ground. After only one year, the store became the dominant hardware business in that area and sales have increased by 20 percent.

As Herrick continued to excel in Bridgewater, he added 6,000 square feet to the Timberville location by moving to a new building, then knocking down the wall between it and the empty space next door. Now that store is 14,000 square feet, allowing Herrick to improve the store’s merchandising and layout and make it easier for customers to navigate.

Herrick was promoted to vice president of operations in 2014 and began to prepare for his biggest challenge yet: Walmart. When Herrick learned that a Super Walmart planned to move in 100 yards from the Timberville location, he created a multi-faceted plan to keep Randy’s Do it Best Hardware competitive. His plan includes three components for success: upgrading and updating product assortment, enhancing the store’s visual appeal and unifying the Randy’s Do it Best Hardware brand across all locations.

To differentiate his product mix from Walmart’s, Herrick revamped his inventory to include better quality products and added work wear, expanded the fastener department and added a rental department to the Bridgewater location. He also expanded the rental selection in Timberville. Additionally, Herrick added or expanded selections of high-end and Made in America product lines for flashlights, pliers, knives, tools and coolers, among others. To build on his image of a retailer dedicated to quality product, Herrick created “value added tags” that show customers products that have been tried and tested by staff or other customers.

Emphasizing communication and training for his staff, Herrick created an employee handbook, a monthly company newsletter, company email system and regular meeting schedule, all of which have greatly improved employee relations.

“I was recently asked if I am concerned about Walmart moving in next door,” Herrick says. “I emphatically replied, ‘No, not at all!’ When you have spent as much time and effort as we have in preparing for it, there is no room for fear or concern. I have never been so confident in the success of our ship. We are strong, more profitable and quicker to respond than ever before. Walmart may not know it yet, but they are certainly going to have their hands full with us!”

In addition to the time and energy Herrick puts into his stores, he also values community service. Herrick stays involved in his church. He also participated in a cleanup project in New York after Hurricane Sandy. He volunteers with the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center, serves on the Ambassador Committee for the Chamber of Commerce and helps with OpenDoors, a homeless shelter.

Herrick encourages his staff to volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program, where Randy’s Do it Best Hardware staff delivers meals to the homes of Shenandoah Valley senior citizens on a monthly basis. Additionally, Herrick keeps the store involved in the community by donating time, door prizes and gift cards to a long list of organizations.

Watch Christian’s video here.

About Hilary Welter

Hilary Welter
As marketing and research coordinator, it’s Hilary’s duty to keep retailers informed about NRHA products and services and to help coordinate industry research projects. Additionally, Hilary is the voice behind NRHA’s and Hardware Retailing’s social media accounts. She appreciates a good book, spicy food, well-made horror films, craft beer and exploring new places near and far.