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Hardware store all-stars: Ark., Calif. and Colo.

Orchard Supply Hardware

From New York's Island to the Redwood Forests, the great American hardware store maintains a revered place in commercial history of these United States. 

The May issue of Home Channel News compiled the first-ever Hardware Store All Star list. Here are three of the 50: standout stores from Arkansas, California and Colorado.

• Arkansas
Ken’s Discount Building Materials
Ken and Dolores Blackmon started their business with very lean inventory: three stacks of plywood left over from Ken’s work as a remodeler. That was more than 30 years ago. Today in El Dorado, Ark., the Blackmons own a 19,000-sq.-ft. home center that sells the usual hardware store assortment plus flooring, cabinets and building materials. The store is a member of the Handy Hardware co-op, where Ken sits on the board. “We buy and sell almost anything,” Dolores said. That includes golf carts, former Katrina trailers and Yeti coolers, which keep ice frozen up to seven days. “I once bought 3,000 softballs,” Ken added.

• California
Orchard Supply Hardware
Celebrating its 80th birthday in 2011, San Jose, Calif.-based Orchard Supply Hardware is strengthened by its history, as a recent flagship-store redesign attests. But the company is more interested in the future. Industry veteran Mark Baker (Home Depot, Scotts Miracle-Gro) has recently taken the reins of the 89-store all-California retailer. The chain’s investors, majority owners Sears and Ares Management, have stated they’re expecting growth — geographic and otherwise.

• Colorado
McGuckin Hardware
In Boulder, Colo., you won’t hear long discussions about inventory turns and supply chain optimization at McGuckin, a hardware institution on both sides of the Rockies. One of the first stores to pass the 200,000 SKU barrier, McGuckin proudly offers everything from fireplace acorn steams to LED-lit fountain pumps, all crammed into a 60,000-sq.-ft. building. Walking through the warren-like store should be on the bucket list of everyone who works in the home improvement industry. 

On Monday: Connecticut, Delaware and Florida.