Passionate Customer Service At My Local Hardware Store


Small businesses often give the best customer service because they are passionate about what they do. My neighborhood hardware store, Tuggey’s, was a prime example.

Tuggey’s had been a fixture in the San Francisco community for 114 years. The owner, Denny, whose father purchased the store from the original owner in 1957, never focused solely on a sale but on helping his customers succeed. Whenever you came in with your do-it-yourself project, Denny would invariably ask you what you were trying to do rather than what you wanted. He helped assemble what was required for the project, showed multiple options, suggested solutions, offered advice and always gave moral support — which is always much needed on DIY projects.

Denny was more than a shopkeeper — he was a consultant whose joy for what he did was infectious. He believed that a customer’s success was his success. Despite the allure of lower prices at big-box warehouses, Tuggey’s was my first choice in a hardware store.

Sadly, passionate service is not always enough when the product you’re selling hasn’t kept pace with changing buying preferences. The young professionals who are now the predominant neighborhood demographic are not spending their weekends under the kitchen sink with a pipe wrench or rewiring old lamps, and Denny was forced to close his store in September 2012.

So, I was forced to go to one of those warehouse stores to get a few items for some home projects, where the only passion I experienced was my intense desire to get out of there. I was misdirected three times by orange-vested, disengaged employees, and walked about a half a mile in a cavernous building. I bought more items than I needed just to “make sure” and will now have to venture back to return all that were the wrong size or that just didn’t work. They may get my business, but without Denny’s passion, they won’t get my loyalty.



Tony Erpelding is the Vice President of Creative Services for Group Delphi. Tony has 30+ years of experience designing exhibitions, themed environments, special events, architectural interiors, and corporate trade shows with a storytelling approach.

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