Small-town business helps big projects

Sean Roberts/Staff Photo

Mike Llewellyn is the general manager of Pack’s Hardware in Smithville. He said that the rental center in the store is frequented by do-it-yourself enthusiasts. “Its nice having the do-it-yourselfers come in,” he said. “We help them with their projects.”

SMITHVILLE — Pack’s Do It Best Hardware takes pride in being a small-town business. General Manager Mike Llewellyn said that being in a community like Smithville results in lasting relationships with the people who frequent the store.

“Being in a small town like this ... it becomes a visiting session. They have popcorn, they have coffee, they get to visit with other customers they know. The small-town atmosphere, you just can’t get any better than that,” Llewellyn said.

He oversees 12 employees at the Smithville shop, providing owner Kevin Euston the ability to be in other locations.

”Kevin is actually, you might say, a second-generation hardware store owner. His dad was in the hardware business and had his stores, and then Kevin took them over. He has four stores total, this one here, one in Red Bridge, one in Waldo and one in Prairie Village, Kansas. All of them are small hardware stores just like this one,” Llewellyn said.

What exactly does this business do?

“We supply customers with home improvement needs. We are a small hardware store for the Smithville community. We take care of everything from plumbing and electrical needs all the way to rental.”

What does the business name mean?

“Pack’s was opened by Elson Pack in (1971) and then when Kevin bought it, since we are a small community and everyone knew where Pack’s was, he decided to leave the name the same.”

How did the owner get started in this field?

“His dad was an owner of hardware stores, and they just kept it in the family.”

What makes this business challenging?

“Being a small hardware store, it’s hard for us to have everything that every customer wants. But we do have the capabilities of ordering everything the customer wants. So that’s the only challenge, not being a big enough building to house everything that a customer may need for a project. But if they are willing to wait and order it, we can definitely get it in for them.”

Who do you go to when you need business advice?

“Actually, Kevin the owner, any advice I can get from him. Or Chris Socha. He is the general manager for the Euston Hardware Stores, both of them are very good for business advice. I’ve been in the retail business for 25 years, so it’s nice to have other guys to bounce off ideas too.”

What makes this business rewarding?

“We are very customer focused, and being in a small community we get to see those same customers on a daily basis ... You get to know each other on a name-to-name basis. A lot of customers, we know the projects they work on all the time, so it’s nice when they come in the door, we know what we need to do to help them. We have a lot of people who come in just for the camaraderie and to be able to sit around and visit and talk. You don’t see that at any big-box stores or big towns. It’s nice in a small community.”

What surprises people most about the business?

“Our customer service. Even though we see a lot of the same faces come in the door, we still offer the same customer service as if it were the first time they walked in. We like to help people find what they need, get what they want, so they can get on with their projects. A lot of people have, with the smartphones today, a lot of pictures and ideas of what they are trying to do. It makes it nice to be able to get kind of personal with that customer and be able to help them with their projects. Our customer service is beyond compare to any other place.

What is the most popular product or service?

“We do have a good rental section. During the spring and summertime, our rental section is a very busy place. We have a lot of customers that are do-it-yourselfers that like doing their own yard work, whether it be aerating or verticutting, whether it’s bobcat work, we offer those conveniences for the customers to come and rent that product.”

What’s next for the business?

“Just keep doing what we are doing, making sure we do get what the customer wants. We are not a huge store, but we do try to keep everything in here we possibly can for the customer, and we have the ordering capabilities to order anything they want.

Education and County Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at sean.roberts@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6606.

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