- About Us
- Client Portal Login
How I …Retooled My Great-Grandad's Hardware Shop
By Grace L. Williams
Who: Brett and Derek Satterfield
What: HardToFindItems.com, a Web site that sells unique or unusual items
Year founded: 2008
Annual Revenue: $1.3 million in 2009Brett Satterfield, 27 years old, knew it wouldn't be an easy task to modernize his family's hardware store, Rollier's. The shop, started in 1922 by his great-grandfather, needed technical upgrades—and a fresh way to compete against the likes of big-box stores such as Lowe's, Home Depot and Wal-Mart. But he decided to nominate himself as the shop's IT expert, and take on the challenge of increasing the store's online presence. In doing so, he found a way to win new customers from across the country. Inspired by shoppers who would request unusual items—say, Christmas lights with white wires instead of green, or thermometers for grills—Satterfield and his brother Derek launched Rollier's supplementary site, HardToFindItems.com, in 2008. "We realized that if we got into the more niche-y type items," Mr. Satterfield says, the business could tap a market "where there's less competition and less margin pressure." Once HardToFindItems.com was established, Mr. Satterfield branched out and began selling items on Amazon.com, which further boosted the company's online outreach. His plan to modernize Rollier's worked: HardToFindItems added $1.3 million in revenue to Rollier's coffers in 2009, and will likely add about $3 million in 2010, Mr. Satterfield anticipates.The new site has provided an unforeseen benefit, too. Mr. Satterfield, who began working at the shop at age 10, now feels like he's made his mark on his family's business. After finishing college, Mr. Satterfield worked a few stints in the finance world before returning to his roots. "I realized that at a large corporation that I wasn't going to be able to mold or create what I wanted to do in developing my own type of thing and being able to see the fruits of my labor," says Mr. Satterfield. "I felt like maybe I should fully explore my opportunities within the family business before moving on."
Fast Fixes features an entrepreneur who thinks outside the box to solve a routine problem or a major obstacle in his or her small business. If you'd like to be considered, click here.
Write to Grace L. Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org