PALMETTO — The small, independent hardware store in downtown Palmetto carries everything that’s sold at a big box retailer.
But owner Trisha Fritz is adding a service to Grower’s Hardware that Lowe’s and Home Depot typically don’t offer: haircuts.
Tough economic times call for creative business decisions.
And Fritz isn’t afraid to try a wild idea, and she knows it’s unusual because her employees told her so.
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“I wasn’t too crazy about it at first,” said store manager Al Bibey. “I said, ‘This is a hardware store, not a barber’s shop.’”
But the way Fritz, and eventually Bibey see it, they’re doing what it takes to keep the 85-year-old hardware store in business.
“The last couple of years, we’ve been dipping into savings,” said Fritz, who estimates sales have declined 40 percent at Grower’s Hardware. “We’re keeping our heads above water, but I thought, ‘What else could we do?’”
So Fritz, a former hairdresser, dusted off her sheers, purchased a barber’s chair, a cabinet and a mirror and set up a small barber’s station at the front of the store. Along the storefront window are folding chairs and magazines for clients.
“It looks like it belongs here,” Fritz says. “I picture people sitting in here waiting for their haircut, reading the paper, catching up with one another. I want to keep that small-town feel going in this store.”
Missy Genneken, office manager for Palmetto Plumbing, said Fritz’s idea just might work.
“I think it’s great,” Genneken said. “Everything’s slow now, we need to get as much traffic through here as possible. This should bring traffic in and around here.”
When Grower’s Hardware introduces the service next week, the haircuts will be free.
“Businesses aren’t the only ones hurting,” Fritz said.
After the one-week introductory period, Fritz will charge $8.
“The economy is awful, and we’re just looking to help our business while at the same time help our customers,” Fritz said. “The money from the haircuts will go toward our bottom line, and also maybe bring in more people that don’t know about Grower’s.”
Joel Jarvis, owner of the Olympia Theatre in Palmetto, said business has slowed down for shops and restaurants in downtown Palmetto, and they all want to see Fritz’s idea work.
“Hopefully, it will give Grower’s more business,” Jarvis said. “We need places like Grower’s to stick around.”