Hardware know-how comes easy
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By PAT MUIR
By the time Brad Christianson bought his own hardware store in 2000, he had worked in just about every facet of the business.
Wholesale, retail, commercial, residential, inventory purchasing, outside sales. If hardware was involved, Christianson had done it.
“Those are experiences you need,” he said. “Sometimes you need to just do something to learn it.”
Christiansen’s long education began as a boy, helping out at his father’s store, Coast to Coast Hardware in Rupert, Idaho. After getting an associate’s degree at Shoreline Community College and studying at Western Washington University, he had stints with Ernst Hardware here in Yakima and in Idaho.
Then he was a buyer for Yakima Hardware, a wholesaler. Then an outside salesman for Available Hardware in Yakima. Then a bid-cost estimator for King Door and Hardware and the same for Miller Glass. Then he went back to retail, working at the old Smooty’s Hardware in Yakima.
“I really don’t think there’s anybody else in town who knows all the aspects of hardware the way I do,” Christiansen said.
Owning a store was always the long-range plan for Christiansen and his wife, Mary, a Wapato High School grad he met at Western.
So when Dave McCartney was ready to sell Roy’s Ace Hardware in downtown Yakima, Christiansen put together the money to buy the franchise. He used his inheritance, talked his brother-in-law Dave Hagarty into buying a 20 percent stake, and took out a small business loan.
The business did well enough that Christiansen was able to open two more stores, the Hometown Ace Hardware on Tieton Drive in 2004 and the Oak Creek Ace Hardware in Naches in 2007.
Still, owning a business is risky, even for a guy with a lifetime of know-how. As an employee, Christiansen could count on a steady paycheck in good times or bad; as an owner, his fortune is tied directly to that of his stores.
“A lot of times you just stay awake at night,” Christiansen said, sitting in his office at the downtown store. “We’ve got a lot at stake at this store — and the other two stores.”
He is happy to have made the leap, though. His own sons grew up working at the stores, and know the business.
“At some point, this is going to be set up for them if they want it,” Christiansen said. “That’s one of the biggest reasons I did it like this. … The way I see it is you’re carrying a baton. You always want your kids to do better than you. If I can give them a running start instead of having them starting at the starting line, that’s good.”
|Owner: Brad Christiansen
Product or service: Retail hardware sales
Location: Roy’s Ace Hardware, 405 W. Yakima Ave., Yakima; Hometown Ace Hardware, 3700 Tieton Drive, Yakima; Oak Creek
Ace Hardware, 10400 U.S. Highway 12 in Naches
Length of ownership: Roy’s, 11 years; Hometown, 7 years; Oak Creek, 4 years
Number of employees: 33
Average number of hours worked by owners each week: 60