Hardware store is latest example of 'adapt or die'

Adapt or die proves true in business world
Updated: Mar. 13, 2018 at 10:55 PM CDT
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Elizabeth Serio McElhatten and her husband, Nick McElhatten, bought King Hardware and Gifts,...
Elizabeth Serio McElhatten and her husband, Nick McElhatten, bought King Hardware and Gifts, also known as King Hardware and Fancy, in 2010. (Source: KSLA News 12)

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Most of us likely have heard the phrase "adapt or die."

In a changing world, Charles Darwin's idea of survival of the fittest extends well into the business world.

And nowhere are those principles more readily apparent than in the competitive world of hardware stores.

One very clear example can be seen in the recent announcement by a long-running Shreveport store.

King Hardware and Gifts first opened its doors in 1955.

Sixty-three years later, the owners made a big announcement this week.

The store will be getting rid of the hardware side of the business.

It will soon become a gift shop, outdoor living, lawn and garden and housewares store, co-owner Elizabeth McElhatten explained.

It's a decision she and her husband made after the huge challenge over the years to compete head-on against big-box stores.

"I now know why all the other small hardware stores had to either close or, you know, change with the times," McElhatten said.

On the eastern side of Red River is another family-owned store, Tubbs Hardware, which has locations in Benton and Bossier City.

So far, it's beat the odds and not only is surviving but thriving.

Just ask longtime employee Curtis Harvey, who explained the secret to success.

"You have to have the right people ordering the right product to stay in the hardware business anymore in a small business."

Harvey credits namesake Don Tubbs and what Harvey described as his very flexible approach to the business as the keys to Tubbs Hardware's long-running success.

"We had to do some Mardi Gras. Hardware and Mardi Gras don't do it all the time. Had to get into the small engine repair business. Big green eggs," referring to the ceramic kamado-style charcoal grill and smokers.

Harvey said it all boils down to vigilance in keeping up with the marketplace and competition. "You got to do it every day, yeah. Because it happens so fast. I mean, you lose a product overnight."

Back at King Hardware, the store has a markdown of 20 percent on hardware.

And McElhatten said some construction soon will make the store half the size it is now.

And there will be a name change, possibly to King's Gifts.

It was just last summer that King Hardware, considered the city's "oldest one-stop shop for hardware,' celebrated its 62nd year in business.

McElhatten and her husband bought the store in 2010.

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