TreeHouse, a home improvement store focused exclusively on eco-friendly products and projects, has an expanding business that other retailers in the industry are noticing.
Since first opening in 2011 in Austin, Texas, the unique startup has grown and gained national attention from both big box players and independents in the home improvement industry.
Representatives from The Home Depot have scoped out the business in person, according to an article from Inc.
And small business ownerJared Littmann, who operates K&B True Value in Annapolis, Maryland, has also taken notice. He decided to visit TreeHouse recently to see what the business has to offer.
“I stopped by TreeHouse, but I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. It definitely was not a typical hardware supply store, but more intentionally a project-based store,” Jared Littmann says.
“The staff is well trained on the various projects. It certainly makes you think if you were doing one of their projects, you’d go to TreeHouse. That’s what every store wants.”
The business is now expanding. The company recently announced that it would open its second store in Dallas in early 2017.
Ballard has structured the store into TreeHouse into three areas based on performance, design and the outdoors. Performance includes factors like smart-home technology and solar power; design includes flooring and paint; and outdoors includes things like organic fertilizers or rainwater barrels.
Another way the business is unusual is that it doesn’t have traditional store aisles, but has a warehouse feel, so customers can wander the three focus sections and talk with experienced employees who can show how projects work. The company spends 110 hours on training per year for each employee, according to the Dallas Business Journal.
The store uses creative display areas to draw customers in to each unique project, yet most inventory is ordered rather than stocked in the store, according to the Inc. article.
“[TreeHouse] keeps only the bare minimum on hand: small items like light bulbs that customers need immediately,” the article says. “Everything else ships from the supplier. That frees up room for spacious product displays and explanatory placards, tables and chairs for design or project-management consultations.”
The store has been labeled as the “Whole Foods of home improvement,” but Ballard has emphasized he does not want the business to be considered a niche.
“We resist being a niche company,” Ballard told The Dallas Morning News. “We’re not just for customers with dreadlocks and card-carrying members of environmental groups. We’re going to prove with the Dallas store that we’re not a store for special people, we’re a store for everyone.”
Below are photos of the business, shared by TreeHouse.