Volume 46, Issue 4 - May 2007

Big Box Bulletin
by Drew Vass,
assistant editor of Shelter magazine

We the People

If you logged into MSN Money’s message board March 26, 2007, you may have gotten a bit of a surprise. After reading complaints from users about Home Depot’s customer service, the new chief executive officer Frank Blake, posted a response. 

Home Depot’s public relations department wasn’t willing to reveal whether or not this was part of a larger marketing campaign, but did verify the message.

In his message Blake says, “…we’ve dispatched a dedicated task force—working directly with me—that is ready and willing to address each and every issue raised on this board.” At press time more than 6,800 messages had been posted. 

Additionally Blake assures, “When you enter our stores, you should receive a personal greeting. After that, you should encounter a helpful associate who will walk you to find the tools, material or service you need. If you don’t, please let us know . . .”

The thread began when a column published by MSN Money, focusing on customer-service problems, apparently hit a soft spot with consumers. The column, “Is Home Depot Abusing Its Customers?” by Scott Burns, prompted more than 10,000 e-mails to MSN’s editors.

Message board postings ranged from: “I thought I was the only one who had these problems with Home Depot” to “I have been witnessing these issues first hand from an employee’s perspective” and “I hope the executives at Home Depot are reading this.”

Move Over American Idol
This past January, Shelter told you how you could win your very own Ace Hardware store. Well one person did just that. 

More than 5,400 aspiring entrepreneurs from across the country entered the Dream Ace Contest from January 1-31, 2007. Ace says throughout February, the state finalists traveled to New York City and Chicago to compete in a series of skill-based activities, including interviews and presentations with qualified Ace retailer judges, sales aptitude assessments, business and marketing plans and a two-day retail “boot camp.” In the process, contestants were narrowed from 40 state finalists to 12 semi-finalists and finally two lucky contestants. Following presentations by the two contest finalists, Ace retailers attending the annual Ace Hardware Convention in Las Vegas participated in a live vote to determine the winner.

The company recently announced that Gower Talley of Canby, Ore., was the grand prize winner. Talley won his very own Ace Hardware store in Houston, valued at $1 million.

“We are thrilled to welcome Gower into our Ace family of entrepreneurs,” said Ray Griffith, president and chief executive officer of Ace Hardware Corp. “Each of our stores is independently-owned and operated and the Dream Ace Contest has provided us the opportunity to shine a light on this fact as well as two qualities that are at the heart of Ace Hardware and our store owners – entrepreneurialism and helpfulness.” 

The Dream Ace journey started for Talley when he found out he was a state finalist—seven days after he retired from the Oregon National Guard. Prior to serving as a marketing director for the National Guard, he spent 16 years in the United States Army and served in Operation Desert Storm. 

Ace says the culmination of its contest will be the grand opening of Talley’s new store on June 29, 2007. The 15,500-square-foot store will be located at 8851 Spring Cypress Road in Spring, Texas, and includes opening stock inventory, fixtures, décor and all the necessary technologies. Talley will also receive training and support from Ace, similar to the assistance the cooperative says it provides all its new retailers. 

© Copyright 2007 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.