FAIRMONT - The work has already begun at Five Lakes Centre, but Chad Koep waited until the deal was done to announce his plans to bring a True Value hardware store to Fairmont.
Koep owns and operates the True Value in his hometown of Lakefield, where he has experienced growth the past eight years. He had been eyeing different sites in Fairmont, from the Kmart building to the movie theater, when he decided on the mall.
"I like the town. It's a big enough town where it has a lot of amenities, but it has that small-town feel, which we like," he said, describing why he and his wife, Jenni, wanted to open a store in Fairmont.
HARD?AT?IT?— Chad Koep of Lakefield poses for a photo Wednesday inside what will soon become a True Value hardware store at Five Lakes Centre in Fairmont.
Renovating a 13,600-foot space at Five Lakes Centre will take about three months, Koep estimates. The women's clothing store Schwesers will move across the hall, since the hardware store will include that space, and the mall entrance just southeast of JCPenney will be repurposed to serve as the hardware store's back room.
There will be two ways to enter the store - from outside the mall and inside. The east entrance will have the "nuts and bolts" of the hardware world, so someone can leave their pickup truck running and quick grab what they need from the store without walking through the mall, explained Craig Newcomer, a True Value retail consultant. The interior entrance will be set up with housewares, paints, small kitchen appliances, etc.
"It's merchandised for convenience," Newcomer said.
Koep said True Value has done its research on what customers want, so the store is designed to be user-friendly for the experienced hardware buff or the novice.
"We know it might not be the person doing the project who's coming into the store," he said.
Koep also prides himself on his customer service, from home delivery of softener salt to advice for a DIY project.
"We're pretty flexible. In Lakefield, if someone needs help with something, people come to us, and if we can't help them, we find someone who can," Koep said.
True Value in Fairmont will offer screen and glass repair, glass cutting, key cutting, an extensive paint center and the basics, such as tools, automotive supplies, building materials and more.
In addition, Koep keeps busy in Lakefield by providing bulk sales and supplies to commercial buyers, something he also plans to do in Fairmont.
Koep will be managing the Fairmont store, which will be open seven days a week.
He plans to start interviews for a dozen positions, full- and part-time, toward the end of February. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for anyone interested in specific positions.
"We're very excited," Koep said. "Three months is too long for me. It needs to open tomorrow."