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Jeremy Peterson decided to go with a soft launch of his new hardware store. But in recent days, with Hurricane Ian forming and threatening Southwest Florida, business has been brisk.

Family Hardware opened Aug. 2 at 13101 McGregor Blvd., in south Fort Myers, in what had been a vape store and massage parlor. Peterson bought the two adjacent buildings in July 2021 for $625,000, then connected them and transformed them into a new mom-and-pop hardware store.

“We took a vape store and a seedy building and made it something that could serve the community better,” Peterson said. “A lot of people have thanked us not only for bringing a hardware store to the area, but for cleaning up the area, too.”

Brian Bubenheimer was one of those people. He does interior and exterior siding, windows, doors, painting, tile, and drywall work for Busy Bee Quality Home Improvements LLC. He stopped by the store and raved about it.  Family Hardware in south Fort Myers

“This is the best thing that’s ever happened to the area,” Bubenheimer proclaimed. “This is wonderful. Now I don’t have to go all the way to Home Depot or Lowe’s. Welcome, man. I’m so excited.”

National chain stores have pushed many neighborhood hardware stores out of business. Because of that trend, there was a niche for a new one.

“There is a need for the Home Depot’s and Lowe’s of the world,” Peterson said. “I mean, they’re a few hundred thousand square foot stores. We’re five thousand square feet. We can’t sell everything they sell. They do have their place in the market. The same reason why Walgreen’s can coexist with Wal-Mart. One’s more convenient and quick. One’s the big box.”

Family Hardware has all the hardware staples – nails, screws, tools, paint, shovels, cleaning supplies, etc. – and hurricane supplies. Fasteners for storm shutters, flashlights, batteries, and gas cans are the bestsellers, Peterson said. That, and wasp spray. That’s because homeowners who are shuttering their windows often find wasp nests outside.  Family Hardware in Fort Myers

“There’s a fine line of having everything and not too much,” Peterson said of the hurricane supplies. “With our weekly truck deliveries and with the way this storm came up pretty fast, what we have is what we have.”

The hardware store concept also has been mostly resilient to online shopping trends. Peterson also owns the first Family Hardware store, which he bought in 2012, at 622 SE 47th Terrace in Cape Coral.

“E-commerce has done a lot,” Peterson said. “It’s wreaked havoc on places like Bed Bath and Beyond and stuff like that. Because you can do your research and then buy it. But hardware is more like an immediate need.”

“Half the time people come in here, and they don’t know exactly what they need. The second thing is, that if you’re buying something small, like a little fitting costs maybe 89 cents. But if you buy it online, they have to ship it to you. So, you’re paying four, five, six bucks because of freight. So, you’re really not saving money if you’re buying online. So, we’re pretty well insulated from ecommerce, in a way.”

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