Last year’s brutal cold winter kept everyone extra busy at Lulloff True Value Hardware in Kiel.
Co-owner Joel Lulloff said, “The freezing weather made it one of our busiest times we ever experienced in our store.”
Shortages in liquefied petroleum gas sent prices skyrocketing across the country, leading to higher demand of pellet stoves and other alternative heat sources.
“People are trying to be as prepared as possible for the winter months in case they can’t get more LP when they need it,” Lulloff said. “Pellet stoves, electric heaters, and propane torpedo heaters really flew off our shelves.”
The region’s gas shortage serves as a callous reminder of the importance of homeowners and families being prepared for winter weather in advance.
Proactive preparation pays off
Lulloff urges community members to be proactive in winter planning early on. He said, “This past winter is a reminder of the importance of being prepared for the conditions. When you’re prepared, you don’t have to be as reactive and can save yourself a lot of money in the process.”
Stocking up on heat sources during the summer months is a great way to get ahead of the urgency.
“Among other things, this is a great time to stock up on wood pellets,” Lulloff said. “After the winter, prices come down from suppliers and we are also able to offer large quantities in bulk.”
Customers can take advantage of higher savings by buying pellets by the skid instead of individual bags.
As easy as it is to lose track of time as the seasons change, storing pellets purchased in the warmer months provides readiness for families when the temperatures start to drop.
The spring sales also bring a reminder for maintenance on wood and pellet stoves. Lulloff said, “This is a critical time for upkeep on your stoves and wood burners. After being used throughout the winter, ash builds up inside the stove. Over time, that ash turns to a crust and hardens throughout the summer when not being used. The longer it sits, the more difficult it becomes to maintain.”
Regular maintenance cleaning is easy and affordable if done at the right time, but as Lulloff reminds customers, it becomes more costly and time consuming if neglected.
Prices for cleaning are as low as $60 on a regular unit and can take only 20 minutes. Lulloff explained that the difference in waiting until the fall or longer before cleaning means almost doubling the cost and time because of the build up of ash.
Like most other things, it is best to develop a good maintenance habit.
Paint department gets face-lift
This year, Lulloff’s has been working to give the paint department a face-lift to better serve customers.
“It was time to update some things and we’re excited to make some changes in the store,” Lulloff said.
The department will be updated with a new color fan deck and paint dispenser equipment in order to do different increments and offer a more diverse color range.
“Utilizing new tools and technology in our store will make it easier for customers to match colors more effectively while offering more options to choose from,” Lulloff said.
More busy times at store
Each year as the weather starts to warm and the snow begins to melt, it becomes another busy time of year as Lulloff Hardware stocks up for the planting season. The sidewalk in front of the store on Fremont Street is filled with potting soil, mulch, fertilizer, and weed prevention products.
“This is another busy time as people are getting ready for the warmer months ahead,” Lulloff said.
Providing customers with the best possible lawn, garden, and landscape products is possible because of Lulloff’s eagerness in supporting other local businesses.
Lulloff said, “We work a lot with County Materials out of Elkhart Lake which has allowed us to keep prices lower while continuing to provide the highest quality products for our customers.”
Lulloff’s carries quality products such as Fox River gloves made in Berlin and Speed Queen home laundry appliances made it Ripon.
“It’s important for everyone, including businesses, to support local and regional companies. Working together helps us all,” Lulloff said.
In summer the store delivers refrigerators and freezers with regularity.
As the seasons change, the family business continues to work ahead of demand. Lulloff knows that it is important to be ready when his customers need him. Forecasting demand and the needs of his customers has been a learned science that continues to be a work in progress.
“To become a trusting resource, we need to reflect and continue to grow from our experiences,” Lulloff said. “We wouldn’t be where we are if we didn’t learn from the past years of being in business. We pay attention to the needs of our customers and understand that those needs change throughout different times of the year.”
Forecasting the demands of the local community and adapting to the needs of its customers through the changing seasons has been pivotal in the success of Lulloff True Value Hardware.
The appreciative business owner said he is proud that his team’s honest and determined work has garnered such loyal customers.
As if reflecting on each person who has come into the store, Lulloff said, “We value the trust our customers and community have shown in our business. That is our success story and we have a lot to be thankful for.”