Shopping Local Pays Off

As we recover from the Thanksgiving weekend and move full steam ahead into the holidays, I feel it is important to remind ourselves about the meaning of the season that we are entering. Many of us might already be feeling the stresses of managing work, family, shopping, preparing, decorating and all of the other things associated with the modern holiday season.

Regardless of religion or specific traditions that we participate in, the one thing we all have in common and expect to experience in the coming month is sharing and community. Around this time of the year, we have a desire to spend time with each other; we attend parties, exchange gifts, eat a lot more than usual and are generally more social than the rest of the year.

Last Saturday, my family and I participated in Small Business Saturday – a concept that encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local – and give them a boost between the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy known as Black Friday for big box sales and Cyber Monday for online deals.

We bought gifts at Crafted, at stores in downtown San Pedro and on Western Avenue. While there are many theories about the effects of shopping local, there is no doubt in my mind that the concept has many benefits for our community. Not only are researchers finding that there is a profound economic impact of keeping money in town, but I believe the connections merchants build with the community when they are a part of it creates emotional ties that are crucial to developing a vibrant culture.

Owners like Peggy Lindquist of The Corner Store, Otto Henke of Urban Feet, Terry Katnich of Ace Hardware and Mona Sutton of the Omelette and Waffle Shop have connections to San Pedro. They give back to the community.

When you shop local, a portion of the sales tax you pay is directly funding essential government services like police, fire, and street maintenance for your own community. When you shop outside the City of Los Angeles, you’re paying for someone else to have smoother streets, lower crime and faster fire department response times. So how is it that I start with reminding everyone about the “Reason for the Season” and I end up talking about consumerism?

There is no going back from the culture of consumerism we have all chosen to participate in. Even though we may daydream about escaping the stresses of it all, the reality is that it has become part of our DNA and we love both giving and receiving. So, if we agree that we want the shopping element to be one of the things that brings us together as a community during the season, I am advocating that we as a culture of neighbors use our buying power for our own good – which means we buy local.

While I agree that the Small Business Saturday campaign is a great way to bring awareness to each other about the benefits of shopping local, I believe we must adopt the concept into our routines more than just one day per year.

This is the perfect time to remind us that the value of our community is only as big as the effort and energy we contribute to it. Let’s remember to support each other as often as we can afford to and let’s build a community that is sustainable and thriving.

Doing this will improve the quality of life for all of us by making our local economy strong, our relationships stronger and allowing us to enjoy each other in the ways intended by the spirit of the holiday season. spt

Ace In The Hole

Terry Katnic (center) surrounded by his Ace Hardware staff. (photo by John Mattera)

Since the introduction of big box, do-it-yourself stores, such as Lowe’s and The Home Depot, the landscape of the American hardware store has changed.

Although independently operated hardware stores and pure hardware chains continue to find a healthy niche, the big do-it-yourself stores have dominated revenues. That didn’t stop or deter Terry Katnic from coming out of retirement and following his dream.

Katnic, in August of 2011, opened one of San Pedro’s newest, most dynamic small businesses, and he opened it under a name that everyone could recognize — Ace Hardware.

Located at 2515 S. Western Avenue, previous home of Hollywood Video, South Shores Ace Hardware is a business Katnic said he couldn’t be “prouder of.”

“The first year was hard, it was a daily struggle,” he says. “But now we are established, people, the community know we are here — and things lately have been going right.”

Katnic celebrated Ace Hardware’s one-year anniversary on August 23. He says in a community like San Pedro, “anything is possible.”

“We are getting a lot of support from the community,” he says. “People come in and say, ‘We are so happy you’re here!’ This is the key to opening a successful small business, it is all about the community you are serving.”

It’s also about location.

In this area of town, Katnic says, there hasn’t been a hardware store for years.

“There was a hardware store on this side of town for 25 years, but the economy took its toll and they had to close their doors,” he says. “It left a hole, and it was something that not only I, but the community noticed.”

When Hollywood Video closed its doors, Katnic knew it was now or never.

“I literally watched the ‘Closed’ signed go up at Hollywood Video and I knew it was my opportunity to put in a hardware store,” he says. “This is a great location, an amazing building and it couldn’t have been a better opportunity.”

A second generation San Pedran, Katnic knows exactly what goes into the opening and success of a small business. Previously in the auto parts distribution industry, Katnic spent 30 years working across the Los Angeles area serving six stores. He sold his interest in the business in 1998, and his professional career took a turn.

Katnic, who wanted a change, obtained a license to sell both life and health insurance. He says it was a great choice, as it made “life easier, and was not as demanding as my previous line of work.” It was a career Katnic says he was proud of, but the entrepreneur in him wasn’t done.

Ace Hardware, Katnic says, has been another life change. He works on average 80 hours a week, and that’s at the ripe age of 60.

“People asked me all the time if I was out of my mind,” he says. “But I love it, I am a hard worker, and I am always up for a challenge.”

Katnic says he is a part of a franchise that he is proud of – he is 100 percent owner. The company, Ace Hardware, operates as a co-op.

He says from the beginning he has been impressed with Ace Hardware – and as his business has turned one, he is an even bigger fan of the company.

“The J.D. Power award for Highest in Customer Satisfaction has been won by Ace Hardware for the last six years,” he says. “We really cater to people, to our customers. My employees don’t just disappear and hide, they work with the customers.”

He continues, “In addition, the logistics are amazing, the company employs 900 people. There are 4,400 stores in America, all independently owned. They give us the plan, but we are all entrepreneurs.”

But he says starting a business takes time and patience.

“It’s a learning curve, an undertaking, starting a new business,” he says. “It’s a commitment to sign a lease, but I never had doubt or fear – I never doubted that this would be a successful business and that is the mindset you have to have.”

Although very happy with his decision, and the success his store has had in the first year, Katnic knows that he needs the continued support of his community to make his store ever lasting.

“Sometimes people forget that in this hard economic time, I took a huge chance,” he says. “The end result is that I employ 10 people. I opened this convenience hardware store for myself and for the neighborhood. I believe in Ace Hardware and I want the community to believe in me.”

At the same time, Katnic recognizes and is overwhelmed with the support he has received.

“This community has been tremendously supportive, and without that support this store isn’t open,” he says. spt

South Shores Ace Hardware is located at 2515 S. Western Ave., Ste. 101. For more info, call (310) 833-1223 or visit www.southshoresace.com.