Former Manager Competes with Wal-Mart

Aug 01, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Don Koontz knows how to compete against Wal-Mart better than most. He managed
a Wal-Mart for five years before opening his own hardware store business in
Hiawatha, Kansas in 1997.

“I can’t buy as cheap as Wal-Mart, that’s a fact, but I can provide better
customer service and that’s a fact,” he told the Associated Press. “I focus
on things they don’t have.”

Focusing on what they don’t have was behind Mr. Koontz’s decision to emphasize
plumbing supplies and paint over automotive items, a clear shift from the store’s
previous owner.

Mr. Koontz sees himself as a problem solver for his customers. Those, he contends,
are in short supply at the typical Wal-Mart store. “You come in and tell me
what your problem is and I’ll figure out what you need. If you are happy with
my service, how many people are you going to talk to? They say ‘Go to Don’s,
he’ll fix you up'”.

Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction/takeaway
from this article?

As Willie Keeler said, “Hit ’em where they ain’t.”

Small operators such as Don Koonz understand, in retail
terms, this means more than geographic location. It also means product categories
and segments where Wal-Mart is weak.
Anderson – Moderator

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