VIDEO: Tessier's thrives as other 'mom and pop' stores fall

VIDEO: Tessier's thrives as other 'mom and pop' stores fall

PAWTUCKET - One by one they're shutting their doors, "mom and pop" hardware stores from East Providence to Attleboro, from Warren to Central Falls, all announcing the end of the line this year.

But owners of Tessier's General Store, a staple in the city for nearly 100 years, say they have no intention of going the way of other hardware stores.

Bud Tessier, third-generation owner of Tessier's, told The Breeze that Tessier's is here to stay, he hopes for another 100 years and multiple generations of Tessiers. The main reason it could happen is the owners' ability to adjust with the times, said Tessier.

Pawtucket residents love Tessier's for many reasons, said Tessier, but one of the most important is the attention the employees here pay to each individual, developing relationships and taking time to address issues like none of the "big box" stores do.

A short video documentary on Tessier's General Store:

"The world has changed dramatically," said Tessier, but small businesses will always be "built on relationships." He and his family have lifelong friendships with many of their customers.

Like his grandfather and his father before him, said Tessier, he has remained committed to giving customers great service at prices that are as good or better than the much larger stores.

Located at 837 Central Ave., Tessier's General Store was first opened back in 1917. Also known as Tessier's Hardware, it is billed as the oldest family-run hardware store in Rhode Island.

Bud Tessier, who grew up in Pawtucket and now lives in Seekonk, Mass., said it's been sad to see owners of old hardware stores like J.A. Landry Hardware in Central Falls announce that they're closing. He and his family are determined not only to survive what's happening elsewhere but to thrive far into the future.

Tessier's continues to benefit from its great location just off Newport Avenue, said Tessier.

"In 15 minutes you can be anywhere," he said. "People don't want to come a long way."

Customers also want to have a wide selection of items to choose from, said Tessier. They know they'll find loads of merchandise packed into Tessier's two floors. Even if they can't find something they want, they can have it within a day or two through a special order.

"You have to have a lot of inventory and you have to be flexible," said Tessier. "That's why you don't see new hardware stores opening."

The ongoing challenge for Tessier's is to draw in a generation of younger shoppers that is constantly bombarded by major advertisements from stores like Home Depot and Lowe's, said Tessier. A lot has changed since fathers were regularly bringing their sons to their local hardware store to learn the ropes from the owners, he said.

Like others, Tessier's has certainly had to "tighten its belt" during a tough economy, said Tessier, but has been able to weather the storm in part by attracting new customers.

"Once people discover us, they keep coming back." He said.

A focus on what Tessier's does well, like equipment service, locksmithing and painting expertise, is also important, said Tessier.

"You need to be a problem solver in this business," he told The Breeze.

Rick and Greg Burbank, of Burbank Management, have been shopping at Tessier's for decades.

"There's nothing quite like this place," said Rick Burbank, who was visiting the store last week in search of some small items.

Tessier and his son Ed are never content to maintain their existing customer base, but are always looking to educate new customers on the benefits of shopping with a local store. At any time they can go online to show skeptical customers prices from other stores.

To survive through a difficult economy, stores like Tessier's need to do more than just sell items, said Bud and Ed Tessier.

The Tessiers are big on using technology and social media well to drive business. Businesses that don't adjust with the times by at least having a great website will struggle to survive, they said. Tessier's sells online to people all over the world, supplementing their walk-in traffic.

Tessier's has also done well to maintain a broad clientele of different types of customers, said Tessier, from homeowners to contractors, from municipal officials to school administrators.

All customers want the people they shop with to be knowledgeable about their products, said Tessier, so he and his staff have no choice but to educate themselves on a regular basis.

The industry is much different than it was back in 1917, said Ed Tessier. Back then no one had heard of a nail gun or drywall screw, but today they're used by everyone. If you don't keep up, he said, you will be left behind.

Customers also want to know that local store owners are interested in the success of their community, said Bud Tessier, which is why they do things like sponsor a house at Pawtucket Winter Wonderland.

Tessier tries to sell as many items made in the U.S.A. as possible, and supports local businesses whenever possible.

For more on Tessier's, visit www.tessiershardware.com .

Comments

In Cumberland we have DePault's Hardware, and in Woonsocket we have Vose Hardware. Just over the line in Bellingham is Rocky's Ace Hardware.

These kinds of small businesses, if people would only stop and think, are what make our hometown communities what they are.

Further, the service they provide far exceeds what the big box stores do not.

price should never be the determining factor in most instances....beside, my own experiences have shown me that, in many instances, these Mom & Pop operations have prices the equal of the big box stores; in some instances, even better!

Seriously: Keep the Green in the Valley - Support Local, Small, Business!

Another vote for keeping it local. Occasionally there is a positive connotation to "knowing a guy" and "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose", and Tessier's proves it.

You too can like them at
https://www.facebook.com/TessiersGeneralStore