Advocacy group Independent We Stand created the Indie Awards, which asks consumers across the nation to nominate and vote for their favorite small business.
This year a community staple, Trio Hardware, was rewarded for its unwavering commitment to service, remaining in place in the face of ongoing chain store takeovers. This year’s contest was co-sponsored by Chrysler Group and STIHL Inc., drawing over 32,000 votes for more than 250 businesses, according to CNN Money.
The 50-year old family-owned Plainview, Long Island institution received 2,024 votes—just about 10 percent of the city’s population—putting Trio Hardware in the top 10 nominations. A panel of judges selected the winner. Trio Hardware will not only be able to boast about being the country’s favorite small business, it will enjoy prizes worth $15,000.
“Our goal is to recognize a small business that has gone above and beyond with its customers and its community,” Bill Brunelle, executive director of Independent We Stand, said. “What stood out for us is how the community has rallied to keep Trio Hardware alive for so long,” Brunelle pointed out.
And, he’s right. In the 1990s, residents organized a protest when Trio Hardware’s landlord attempted to void the store’s lease following a fire. Other campaigns have been organized to keep large chain stores such as The Home Depot and Lowe’s from encroaching on the town and the shop. “It’s still affecting us that those stores are nearby, but it could have killed us if they were right in our community,” Bruce Carlow, one of Trio Hardware’s co-owners, told CNN Money.
Bruce’s father opened Trio Hardware in 1963. The shop’s seven full-time staff—two were recently named partners—have worked at Trio for at least a decade. Not only are the staff committed to Trio, Bruce and his wife, Francesca, told CNN Money that the shop has enjoyed customer relationships for decades.
“I loved going into the store back in the day when it was just a typical hardware store with dirty wooden floors,” said Elan Wurtzel, a 26-year Plainview resident and Trio shopper. Wurtzel noted that the changes have been minimal and that the Carlows have diversified its product offerings “to keep up with the times and the competition. Today, the 3,500-square-foot shop sells power tools; nails; art and sewing supplies; kitchen and garden products; cell phone accessories; and, even, “bra extenders,” said Carlow, according to CNN Money.
Wurtzel says it is the Carlows and their staff that are the biggest draw, specifically, their unmatched customer service. “Every employee knows what they’re talking about,” he said. “They never say no to you. If they don’t have something, they’ll order it for you.” Wurtzel wasn’t the only one who cited Trio Hardware’s incredible customer service. Other respondents said it is the shop’s impeccable service that makes it worthy of the Indie Award.
According to Carlow, Trio Hardware’s employees know most of their customers by their first name because, “We like to give the kind of service that we want to receive ourselves.”
Bruce said he and Francesca have thought about expanding. “Could we possibly make more profits if we expand? Yes. But I think we’d lose our personality,” said Bruce.
Kavilanz, Parija. “America’s Favorite Small Business is …;”, CNN Money. December 5, 2013.