The Hardware Store in Mardela Springs, Md., is a small rural store that offers an old-fashioned retail experience to its customers. But mixed in with the country charm is a little bit of technology.
“I’ve always been very modern in my approach to retailing, even though we feature the old-time feel,” says owner David Kenney.
For example, the store’s 6,000-square-foot warehouse, which sits next to the store, has solar panels installed across its top.
Kenney contacted a solar panel solutions company a few years ago at the suggestion of a customer and decided to give solar panels a try.
The decision paid off better than he ever could have imagined. The panels produce more energy than the store uses, so he sells that extra energy back to the power company. He’s expecting the system to pay for itself in about four and a half years.
While it’s larger than what he currently needs, Kenney is planning for an expansion in the near future, so when that time comes, he won’t have to worry about upgrading his system.
Customers regularly ask him about the panels. “I’ve become one of the biggest sales reps for the company. Since we’re on a major highway, many locals who know us figure if solar energy is working for us, it must be good for them, too.”
And, on several occasions, the solar panel company has used Kenney’s store as a host for open houses.
While these events are to bring in business for the solar panel company, they also increase customer traffic to The Hardware Store.