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An Ace Up Their Sleeve: Lessons for Small Businesses from Ace Hardware's Business Model

The Ace Hardware logo

Recently on X, a user named TheWealthCoach asked:

"How does Ace Hardware stay in business?

15% higher than Lowe's and Home Depot while having nothing you need in stock."

User Robert Sterling's reply got a lot of attention and support:

An X post on a black background

The Competitive Edge of Ace Hardware

Sterling's tweet underscores several key points about Ace Hardware's success:

  1. Local Ownership and Community Integration: Most Ace Hardware stores are owned by local operators who are deeply integrated into their communities. This local ownership fosters a sense of community and personal investment in the store's success, leading to better customer service and community involvement.

  2. Efficient Store Locations: The smaller size of Ace Hardware stores allows them to be situated closer to residential neighborhoods. This proximity makes them more convenient for customers, offering a quick and efficient shopping experience compared to larger competitors.

  3. Customer Experience: Ace Hardware stores focus on providing a superior customer experience. Their smaller size means that customers can quickly find what they need with the help of knowledgeable staff, making the shopping process faster and more enjoyable.

Addressing Customer Concerns

While the original post pointed out that Ace Hardware's prices can be higher and stock can be limited compared to Lowe’s and Home Depot, the company's focus on customer service and convenience often outweighs these disadvantages. The ability to quickly find and purchase items with personalized assistance is a significant draw for many shoppers.

Lessons for Small Businesses

Small businesses can learn several valuable lessons from Ace Hardware's business model:

  1. Leverage Local Ownership: Local ownership can create a strong connection with the community, fostering loyalty and repeat business. If you are a small business owner, consider how you can integrate your company more deeply into your local community.

  2. Optimize Location: Smaller, strategically located stores can offer a significant advantage in terms of convenience. Businesses should evaluate their location strategy to ensure they are easily accessible to their target customers. And if you don't have a retail storefront, you should still think about how to

make the buying experience more convenient. Your website is the front door to

your business, so make sure to eliminate any obstacles that stop your clients

from purchasing or booking service with you.

3. Focus on Customer Experience: Providing exceptional customer service

differentiates a small business from larger competitors. Investing in staff training

and creating a customer-friendly environment can lead to higher customer

satisfaction and loyalty.

4. Community Involvement: Actively participating in and supporting the local

community can enhance a business's reputation and strengthen customer

relationships. Businesses should look for opportunities to engage with and

contribute to their communities. Sponsor a sports team, attend local events, or

pick a meaningful charity to support.

Does your small business need support? We can help! Email us at for retained or project support in marketing, human resources, and operations.

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