Starting a new business is never easy. The hours are long, the risks are high, and most days are filled with uncertainty.
There is no doubt about it – entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, even during the best of times.
Clearly, the economic and social upheaval created by the COVID-19 pandemic do not represent the best of times. However, local business owners Greg and Christa Yandell saw opportunity where most people only saw risk. Along with their sons, Logan and Alex, the Yandells opened Hendersonville Ace Hardware on West Main Street during November 2020.
Let’s learn a little bit more about one of Hendersonville’s newest retail businesses.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
“Both Christa and I grew up on large family farms – environments that tend to foster entrepreneurship,” says Greg. “Also, I believe there is a certain amount of personal satisfaction in owning a business that serves your community.”
When did you begin planning to start your own business?
“We had been looking for a location in Hendersonville for the past three years so that we could bring Ace Hardware back to town,” says Greg. “However, the real planning started during fall 2019 when our retail space became available.”
What attracted you to Hendersonville?
“Hendersonville is our home – our hearts are here,” says Christa. “We raised our sons here, and we have developed deep friendships here over the past twenty years.”
“We love the lake life as well as the strong community atmosphere in Hendersonville,” adds Greg.
How did you choose a hardware store?
“A hardware store is essential to any thriving community,” says Greg. “The Ace Hardware cooperative approach allowed us the opportunity to think outside the box and incorporate our personal backgrounds and interests to create a very unique shopping experience.”
What sets you apart from your competition, such as big box hardware stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot?
“While I believe there is a space for each store, Hendersonville Ace Hardware will be truly known as the ‘helpful place,’” says Greg. “While we carry over 80,000 items in our store, we are small enough to provide every customer with personalized attention.”
“We are doing several things that help differentiate us from the big box hardware retailers,” says Christa. “We offer a dedicated gift and home goods section, a full-line Benjamin Moore paint center and a large selection of custom products crafted by local artisans.”
“Next spring, we will launch one of Middle Tennessee’s most unique lawn and garden centers,” adds Greg. “The 6,500 sq. ft. center will be housed within a dedicated building, reminiscent of a Maine backwoods cabin.”
How did you feel about opening your new business during a pandemic?
“Any time you open a new business, there will be many sleepless nights where you wake up wondering if you have done all your homework, and if the risk is worth the investment,” says Greg. “While those concerns have been compounded many times over during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been cause for optimism. We have been pleased to see that people are refocusing their lives, discovering new ways to enjoy their immediate surroundings, fixing things around the house, learning new hobbies, growing their own produce, etc. Many of those new discoveries directly relate to a hardware store helping them in that journey.”
How has the pandemic affected your business?
“The pandemic delayed our opening by many months,” says Greg. “We opened the store with roughly 70% of what would have been a normally-stocked store. However, we have backordered stock arriving every week, so we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.”
What changes did you have to make to your business plan to accommodate the special requirements imposed by the pandemic?
“Our business plan continually evolved to deal with pandemic-related construction issues and stock backorders. Due to the delays we missed the entire summer season, resulting in us having to continually rethink our seasonal opening items,” says Greg. “Furthermore, we had planned on going to a wholesale marketplace to purchase merchandise for our gift and home goods store. However, due to the pandemic, the market was completely shut down, so we had to rely on individual appointments with a few vendors in order to purchase our Christmas stock. Fortunately, marketplace vendors love Ace Hardware, particularly as many newer stores are adding gift and home good sections. We had several great vendors who were eager to showcase their lines in our store.”
What do you enjoy most about your business?
“We have only been open for a couple of months now, and every day, multiple customers thank us for bringing Ace Hardware back to town, and also for investing in the West Main side of Hendersonville,” says Greg. “Along with Hendersonville Ace Hardware, we own the Red Rooster Café, which is also located on the west side of town. The area is a great place to own any business – the community will support you 100%. We are very grateful for the encouragement and the patronage offered by our customers.”
Hendersonville Ace Hardware
500 West Main Street, Suite 260,
Hendersonville, TN 37075