By Maddy Vitale
Paul Giunta and his sister Alison Dannenhower are certain they learned what it means to be good business owners from the best – their father Paul Giunta Sr.
And if you think about the longevity of success since their grandfather Sam Giunta started Shore True Value Hardware in 1958, followed by their father taking it over 21 years later, they are probably right.
“When I bring new people in to work I say, ‘You can get a broader selection and maybe a lower price at a Home Depot, but you won’t get the same customer service,” Paul Giunta said in between doing work on the computer and checking on staff at Shore True Value Hardware in Somers Point. “That is the reason why we have been here for 60 years.”
From paint, to flooring, to tools, to gardening supplies, to a vast selection of Weber grills and even street hockey equipment, Shore True Value gives the customers what they want, Giunta said.
Top sellers in all hardware stores are the same, Giunta said.
“We all sell paint, fertilizers, light bulbs. But things you can find here we have a niche in are the nuts and bolts,” Giunta said. “We have a lot of fittings and repair part for fixtures. It might sit on the shelf for six months, but we have it.”
Since Giunta, 47, and Dannenhower, 51, both of Somers Point, bought the business from parents Paul and Alice Giunta 11 years ago, and really focused on capturing a niche market, especially when competing with big box home improvement stores in the area.
“I like to hear, ‘I’ve been to five places,’” Giunta explained of the do-it-yourself buyers who often enter the doors. “It is the guy doing it himself on a Saturday who has to fix his faucet. We do have lots of contractors but predominantly it is the do-it-yourselfer.”
A popular specialty item at Shore True Value is a full line of street hockey equipment. It is a draw that brings people into the store with new customers, Giunta said.
“Somers Point, Egg Harbor Township, Linwood and Ocean City all use street hockey stuff,” Giunta said. “We carry sticks, helmets, shin guards, gloves and balls. In September when signups begin my guys size them with shin guards and everything they need.”
They also stock Telescope beach chairs, items Giunta described as the best beach chairs on the market.
Knowing what to purchase to set them above other stores comes with experience, Giunta said.
“A lot of times you have customers coming in saying they want something,” Giunta said. “You have to listen to the customers first and foremost and that is how you build your assortment and see what moves and what hasn’t sold in a year.”
And there is no question, the family has built up a strong base of customers over the years through the True Value Rewards Program.
“I think I have 17,000 people signed up. We incentivize our cashiers to sell the programs. Customers can track their points and they receive rewards certificates.”
Longtime customers and ones celebrating birthdays also receive additional rewards.
What keeps the siblings successful how they run the operations of Shore True Value.
Dannenhower, a married mother of three, handles the back office and Giunta handles the front end of the store.
“We help each other a lot,” Giunta said.
Giunta joined the family business after he graduated from college in 1992 with a degree in retail management. But his love for the business began when he was young.
“As far as I can remember, when I would drive my mom nuts, she would send me to the store. I would sweep the floors and pound nails,” Giunta explained with a laugh. “I worked there all through high school. I went to college with the intention of working in the family business.”
Dannenhower found her way into the business a couple of years earlier after she discovered beauty school was not her thing. Her first task was to computerize the entire business, a daunting task that she did with relish, Giunta said.
The siblings’ recipe for success includes their separate and distinct skills.
“I think my parents are probably proud,” Giunta said. “My father worked extremely hard in the business. I would say much harder than us. With computerization and other processes, it has become easier.”
And like any good business owners, you are only as good as the people you hire.
“I am not on the floor. I have two store managers. We have been very fortunate,” Giunta, a married father of two, said.
The overwhelming theme of the store is longevity. So, it would only make sense that some of their top employees have worked at the store for decades.
Carpenters, electricians, plumbers and other specialty trained staff are on the floor, specially trained in many areas.
“We just show them the system. They all have a lot of different product knowledge,” Giunta said.
The store, which has been in the same location since 1968, after relocating from a strip mall in Somers Point, is 10,000 square feet with 2,000 square feet of warehouse space.
Making it a top priority to be not only a business partner in the community, but a real part of their hometown, is something both Giunta and Dannenhower strive to achieve.
“One of the things we pride ourselves in is giving back to community. We participate in the Good old Days Festival and the “Run For Bud” race. We try to sponsor everything we can. The people in the community support us, so we do our best to support them.”
Giunta said, “Our customers do surveys by the hundreds and they are all positive comments. It is all about the experience in the store. It makes you feel like we are doing something right here.”
The store, located at 515 New Road in Somers Point, is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit www.shorehardware.com or call (609) 927-6464.