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e l o h f o W ot L tuf f: S By Kevin Van D yke 1


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AKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks Henry, Dave and Collin

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Table of Contents Foreword...7 Introduction...11 Chapter One...14 Chapter Two...18 Chapter Three...24 Conclusion...27 Works Cited...29 5


Foreword The hardware store in downtown Los Altos is somewhat of a landmark at this point -- something I have taken an interest in because hardware is fun for me to use. I wanted to uncover the true effect that the hardware store has on the town, because we all know what it is and what it’s primary purpose is. But what does it do for the town? In reading this book you will find out what makes the hardware store such a valuable piece of Los Altos, and how different Los Altos might be without it. It was difficult figuring out the effect the store has on

this town because I hardly knew where to begin looking. Talking to the owner narrowed things down for me, as his 30 years of experience with both the hardware store and the town gave him lots of knowledge about how the town works in relationship to the hardware store. From there, I pieced together what I gathered from him: my personal observations and my research involving the way towns work and what underdeveloped towns have versus what developed towns have. It turns out a hardware store plays quite an important role in a growing town.

Throughout my experience writing this book, I gathered that it is important for store owners to know how to best serve their town, otherwise they end up not doing well enough to keep going. And there is no store that I’ve seen that knows this better than the Los Altos Hardware Store. After 30 years, they’re still changing constantly as needed to keep this town running smoothly and keep their business coming.

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Introduction In order to survive and prosper, a hotel must have a timely cleanup crew, an on-task management and a polite, stable concierge. A concierge that not only checks you in and checks you out, but gives you what you need to make your stay a comfortable one. The concierge of hotel Los Altos is the Los Altos Hardware store: a stable influence in the town for 30 years and running. But what makes it such an invaluable piece of the puzzle? For starters, the town would not look anything like it does now if the hardware store had not come about. The Hardware store is such a large part of the identity of

the town that it preserves the essence of Los Altos while the rest of it changes, the essence being that of a steady paced, welcoming town. Recently, people think Los Altos has become a changing, growing town. But with these changes, it is still the friendly little town it has always been. But it might not be if it weren’t for the hardware store. It may have begun to industrialize and have factories move in if it weren’t for the strong sense of identity as a small, quiet town. But identity doesn’t just float freely and choose to remain in the town. If there weren’t something to keep it with us, all of the

new additions to the town would make up it’s identity as it changes; with the new coming in and the old just dropping out, each of those take with it the personality of the town. If you want to meet the hotel, you talk to the concierge. So to have a friendly, inviting, helpful concierge means to have a friendly, inviting, helpful identity for the entire hotel.

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“People respond well to kind, positive attitude and willingness to help and go the extra mile�

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-Dave

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Chapter One Dave

In the town of Los Altos, there is an old hardware store owned by a man named Henry and his wife. Henry and his employees do a fine job keeping their thousands of products organized in a small building that was once an ice cream parlor. The store has character, 30 years of it, and the employees are what you’d expect from a small town, all-American hardware store. But what most don’t realize is what the hardware store means to this town and how it has helped Los Altos mature to what it is now. Los Altos is continuing to grow. Recently, brand new stores, such as Skate Works and On Your Mark, have been sprouting up all over downtown, creating a fresh new environment in an old town. Throughout the years, very few stores have remained, and none have thrived better than Los Altos Hardware. This 14

store has not only survived the ups and downs of the economy over the past 30 years, but it has also prospered and kept up with the changing times. Other retail stores similar to our hardware store have been left behind by their towns and gone out of business because they fail to change with the ever-changing times. Henry says that when running the hardware store, “you have to change daily. Our inventory is always being updated. We have to change our product mix all the time.” If it were not for their diligence and other stuff needed to keep up with the brand new needs of the town and realizing what isn’t selling and thereby removing those products from their merchandise, people would have a hard time shopping there, as they wouldn’t have what people need. In fact, I saw significant changes happen even between my first and

second interview. It’s a lot to ask of a small business, but the fact that they do this keeps them in business and has for the last 30 years. Most businesses do not last nearly that long. A statistic by ritholtz.com states that “35% of small businesses make it through their first 10 years.” That’s a small margin out of a very large set of small business owners. According to sba.gov, a website which helps people with their start-up businesses, ”Poor inventory management” is why other stores go out of business. It is fair to say that the consistent success of Los Altos Hardware is due in part to environment and not 100% to work ethic. An article in inc.com states that “small towns are boons for small bsinesses.” It just so happens that Los Altos Hardware is located in a fitting location within a very fitting town to keep up with.


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Chapter Two Dave has worked at the hard- son, however, to the 30 years ware store for thirteen years under Henry’s belt. You can’t now and has a few things to say that for most of the other say about it. For one, he has stores downtown. Sparks tri“the greatest boss in the bune asks us “Where have all smiles world”. Henry, his boss and t h e main subject of chapter one is a man who is generous with his time and willing to go the extra mile. Dave went on to tell me about how working at the hardware store has changed him in a positive way. It not only has an effect on the people who walkHenry gone? in, but on the employees as well. Dave, specifically has The “hellos” and “how are “learned how to deal with dif- yous?” “Can I help you?” ferent kinds of people”. So if and the “have a great day?” you ever want to stop by, talk Even for something like the to Dave and he’ll know how to Italian Deli, They hire mostly deal with you, no matter what high school students. Those kind of person you are. After kids are barely over thirteen 13 years of working there, he years old. They don’t have ought to. That’s no compari- the experience that the folks 18

at True Value have. Dave also thinks that helping people in this store specifically is a bit easier, because “people respond well to kind, positive attitude and willingness to help, go the extra mile, and I think they walk out of here feeling happy and content”. Dave, like Henry and others who work at Los Altos Hardware represent to me the epitome of great customer service that you really can’t find in most other places. Sure other stores will be polite and courteous, but none that I have been into have been willing to take it as far as they do in Los Altos Hardware.


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“I’d say we’re the stability of (the town)” -Henry

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“They’d be screwed [without the hardware store]. They’d have to go to Home Depot and get no customer service and probably not get their project done.” -Collin Cabral


Chapter Three Los Altos Hardware, as mentioned, is 30 years old now. Age carries a weight all by itself, not to mention their great customer service. According to a case study by Will Lambe, author of Small Towns, Big Ideas, “Businesses located in small-town, rural locations carry a moral and ethical standard above their urban competitors.” That being said, we can defi-

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nitely infer store that’s around for long has a nificant moral ethical effect on the town of Los Altos. It could be considered the grandfather of what the town has recently become. It’s a bit like

that a been this s i g a n d

a slice from an era before Los Altos had become much more than orchards and farms, and it’s presence keeps the town grounded a bit more than it might if old stores like this were not around. As Henry puts it, “We’re the stability of [the town]. We’re here when people come into town and when they leave town. They always tend to visit this store first.” No other stores that I’ve seen in Los Altos can say that they have helped just about every other


business in the entire town because those businesses need their services. The fact that Los Altos Hardware has such an abundance of products, ranging from plumbing to construction, all the way to decorational supplies, packed into a small store in downtown Los Altos makes it a perfect destination for businesses and residents to go to for help. Between my first and second interview, I noticed that they had added an entirely new shelf specifically

for sprinkler heads, maybe because the rain season is passing and more people than at any other time of the year need to water their lawns. Collin, an employee, thinks that, without the hardware store, “[The town] would be screwed. They’d have to go to Home Depot and get no customer service and probably not get their project done.” Maybe the reason Los Altos used to be such a slow town is because they didn’t have the convenience that is the local

hardware store. With it’s help, the town has recently been picking up the pace, as we’ve all seen. New stores come as old stores leave, but the town could not do without the hardware store. Therefore, it hasn’t left and until the day Los Altos becomes a corporate town with Wal-Marts and factories, if that day ever comes, Los Altos Hardware will be needed, and the town will make sure it keeps it’s rightful place among the community.

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Conclusion And so it is to the hardware store. The helper of man’s needs, the keeper of his tools, the concierge of the town--that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help Los Altos will be what it was born to be: stable and secure. Any small business located in a small town needs a few things to survive. Those things include fantastic customer service, an updated inventory and a strong position in the community. The Los Altos

Hardware store would not have survived had it not had one or any of these qualities. If Los Altos were a hotel instead of a town, Los Altos Hardware would certainly act as concierge, as it is welcoming and tends to be the first and last place people stop when migrating in and out of the town. When the citizens of Los Altos need help with anything, Los Altos Hardware delivers. When the citizens of Los Altos cry out in need of new sprinkler

heads, Los Altos Hardware delivers. And when the citizens of Los Altos need something new, but neglect to say so, fear not. Los Altos Hardware knows. And it will DELIVER. Because part of excellent customer service is an all knowing sixth sense: the employees know when something is needed and when something is no longer needed. As Hardware stores go, we’re lucky to have the one we have.

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Work Cited

Cabral, Collin. Personal interview. 23 March 2014. Dave. Personal interview. 25 Feb. 2014. Henry. Personal interview. 25 Feb. 2014

Lambe, Will. “Small Town Big Ideas.” N.p., Dec. 2008. Web. “Small Business Success/Failure Rates | The Big Picture.” The Big Picture. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2014. “Sparks Tribune - The Dying Art of Great Customer Service.” Sparks Tribune - The Dying Art of Great Customer Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2014. “What Are the Major Reasons for Small Business Failure? | SBA.gov.” What Are the Major Reasons for Small Business Failure? | SBA.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. “Why Small Towns Are Boons for Small Business BY Charley Moore.” Inc.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2014. 29


Whole Lot of Stuff By Kevin Van Dyke

Kevin Van Dyke is and always has been a resident of Los Altos Hills, California. At an early age, it was apparent that he worked well with computers and enjoyed learning about them. Throughout elementary school at Loyola Elementary, he jumped at the opportunity to use school laptops and computers in the computer lab. When he first heard about Freestyle Academy, Kevin couldn’t wait to apply and soon begin working with stateof-the-art computers and applications he had so long been waiting for. Freestyle has been excellent for Kevin, as it has taught him to use applications which made it easy for him to express his childlike ideas and concepts that are much more fun for him to make on computers than on paper. Kevin is still attending Freestyle and continues to have the best time he’s ever had in school.

e l o h f o W ot L tuf f: S By Kevin Van D yke

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