My name is Willis Qualheim and I own Qualheim’s True Value in Shawano, Wisconsin. My parents bought a little Coast to Coast store on Main Street in 1979, and I joined the business in 1981. In 1982 a larger building became available a couple of doors down - and we moved, giving us 5,000 square feet of retail space. Plus the new building had a full basement as well as a second story for storage. Then a few years later we leased another property down the street and operated out of both buildings. In 1995 a former ACE store became available, so we gave up the other two properties and moved to our current location. We’re on the east side of town where most of the retail stores are located. We now have a total of 50,000 square feet, with about 35,000 square feet of retail space, on a 7 acre site.
We have all the core hardware departments as well as farm, clothing, sporting goods, pets, pet supplies and Just Ask Rental. We do a big business in outdoor power equipment. Our Lawn & Garden department includes 8000 square feet of greenhouses as well as a couple of acres of outdoor display. We employ 25 full time staff and another 20 part timers. The level of experience among full time staff is extremely high, as half have been in the store for more than 15 years. In fact our turnover of full time employees is very low - less than 10% .
Shawano is a fairly suburban community, although I think Jane Bailey would classify us as rural. It’s mostly lower to middle income families, and it may be a slightly older population since Shawano Lake and all the other lakes in the area are popular retirement locations. The actual population of Shawano is 9,000, but the shopping population is closer to 35,000. Our customer base is predominately consumer, although we get a number of builders and contractors. We are about 35 miles from Green Bay and 45 miles from Appleton and people do go there to shop for clothing, appliances, and other big ticket items.
Our hours are Monday through Friday 7:00 am till 8:00 pm. Saturdays we’re open from 7:00 am till 8:00 pm; and on Sundays it’s 9 till 5 – except in the spring when it’s 8 till 5. Sunday is our best sales day as far as dollars per hour opened, so I am always amazed when I hear someone say their store is closed on Sunday. That’s when people are doing their DIY projects – and shopping for the products they need to do them!