BY CARMEN SIERING
As the owner of Bloomington Hardware, Vickie Davison says she’s been competing with big box stores and the internet for years. “But Bloomington really celebrates local businesses,” she says. “And that’s huge, because it doesn’t matter what the business is, if people don’t shop there, then that business will close.” Still, she points out that being a brick-and-mortar hardware store carries one advantage: “If you need a plunger, you need it now.”
Davison says Bloomington Hardware does carry all of the products one might expect, including plungers and other plumbing supplies, tools, and paint, but the thing it does best is offer one-on-one advice to customers. “We have a lot of full-time employees who have been here a long time,” she says. Whatever customers need, Davison is certain her employees can help them out.
“Maybe someone has a house for the very first time and they need to mow the grass or rake the leaves,” she says. “Or maybe it’s on the other end, and they’re downsizing and they come in and say, ‘I have all these rakes, but I just need one that works.’”
Those are pretty good examples of the other things customers will find at Bloomington Hardware. “We sell a lot of lawn and garden supplies,” Davison says, everything from grass seed to wheelbarrows. “We even have reel mowers,” she says. “If somebody has a small yard, and they want to put in a little work, those are great. And no carbon emissions!”
Davison is big on green products. She’s fond of Mr. Beams, a line of energy-efficient, wireless LED light fixtures, some of which are motion sensing and all of which can be installed without an electrician. “With the improvement in LED technology,” Davison says, “these lights can last up to 20 years.”
Bloomington Hardware has been at its current location, 2700 E. Covenanter Drive, near College Mall, since 1985. It’s been around since the 1880s, and in the family since 1928. But for such an old business, it’s not old-fashioned. Davison understands the desire to shop on the internet. She just asks that people do it on her store’s website. “They can order anything online, then have it shipped here for free,” she points out.
For more information or to order online, visit bloomingtonhardware.com.