Crest Hardware Cultivates Deep Community Roots

This is the second installment of a special series sponsored by the National Hardware Show exploring how select home improvement retailers are implementing progressive new strategies to transform the channel and propel it toward future success.

Joseph Franquinha

Crest Hardware & Urban Garden Center has been an institution in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg since it was opened in 1962 by Manny Franquinha, who built the business through a dedication to customer service and a focus on community improvement.

Manny’s son, Joseph Franquinha, has continued the Crest legacy of customer and community service during the cross-generational rebirth of Williamsburg the past several years. Crest, a True Value member, presents more than 10,000 square feet of retail space inside and outside, showcasing a diverse mix from hardware to housewares to art supplies to plants and garden accessories. A regular schedule of civic-minded and charitable events completes the transformation of the traditional hardware store into a modern-day general store— a community hub tuned to the needs, tastes and passions of its bustling, trendy, urban surroundings.

In the following interview Crest’s Joseph Franquinha discusses the importance of reimagining the community retail experience and why the National Hardware Show has been instrumental in helping Crest discover new products and ideas to bring home to Brooklyn.

What makes the Crest Hardware customer experience different?

Joseph Franquinha: Creating a unique retail experience has always been part of our formula: The importance of customer service and communication.

You have to start by creating an experience in the aisles. As far as the traditional retail experience, some things never go out of style. A well-lit, well-organized store is more important now than ever because of how many shopping options are within arm’s reach.

You have to keep things fresh and you need variety. Sometimes you have to get out of your own store to know what that really means. We often carry lines of products before they make it into other retailers.

How do housewares and other home products contribute to the Crest Hardware offering?

JF: Housewares is has becoming a more important category for Crest. We serve a very transient demographic, and we have to touch on the right products at the right pricepoints for younger people getting their first apartments after college

We plan to expand the breadth of housewares and home even more over the next two years. It’s the convenience factor. It’s a badge of honor to shop locally. We want to make sure they get a well-curated experience, something worth buying.

What were your first impressions of the National Hardware Show?

JF: When I first started going to the show, I was like a kid in a candy store. You have so many departments and categories. I used to say it was wonderfully overwhelming.

There is so much intel to take back with me— not just new products, but so many new ideas. And I have cultivated so many relationships at the show.

How has The National Hardware Show helped Crest Hardware create its distinctive experience?

JF: The show got me excited about so many things, such as the barbecue and outdoor living area. The outside tailgate area is a great example. These shows are a lot of work for retailers and buyers, but they can also be fun. It’s an experience for them, too.

The show helps me to think outside the box. If you get stagnant, that limits who is coming into the store and why.

Reimagining retail should be a constant part of the dialogue for any owner. The whole idea to keeping brick-and-mortar strong and moving it forward is taking it all apart and putting it all together again. The National Hardware Show encourages you to experiment, to see different categories, to evaluate new ideas, to meet with new people launching new brands.

The National Hardware Show, celebrating its 75th anniversary of connecting the industry and kicking off its first year of being a SMART event, is a vibrant, vital resource for progressive home improvement retailers of all sizes and scope seeking an expansive selection of innovative housewares and home products in such popular Show exhibits as Homewares, Outdoor Living and Tailgate, Backyard & BBQ.