When the spread of COVID-19 began changing the lives of residents in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Cloverdale Ace Hardware was quick to find new ways to serve.
Store owner Douglas Brown scrambled to ensure his business could continue operating, despite challenges. Some employees preferred to stay at home, and common products were difficult to stock.
More customers than ever needed Brown’s store, but businesses throughout the U.S. were being forced to close as both fear and the virus spread.
“I had lost sleep, I can’t even tell you how many nights, not knowing what it would mean,” Brown says. “We weren’t even sure if we would be deemed an essential business.”
But the state government deemed hardware stores essential, and Brown has been working side-by-side with his employees every day, making changes to cleaning protocols to keep people employees safe while adjusting services to help customers.
One of Brown’s latest initiatives is a partnership with a local tech business to provide a new mobile app to customers. Brown uses the app to answer questions from customers via text message or video chat.
For example, customers can call Brown through the app and show him what’s broken on their toilet and ask for advice on how to fix the problem and what they need to buy. Cloverdale Ace staff can now directly see the issues customers face at their homes, enabling them to recommend specific products as solutions.
“There’s a lot of expertise found in a store our size. This just gives us one more way of communicating and being responsive to our customer base,” he says.
Cloverdale Ace has also promoted curbside pickup, delivery to homes and even deliveries to the guard gate at a gated retirement community, where the residents have locked themselves in to stay safe. Sales at Cloverdale Ace have shot up because the store is meeting community needs in every way it can.
“I’m burning the candle at both ends to be sure we’re doing everything we can do,” Brown says. “I can’t tell you how often somebody looks me in the eye and says, ‘Thank you for being open. We appreciate you so much.'”