Fuller & Son Hardware Inc.

City: Little Rock
Category: Category II (26-75 Employees)
Year: 2001

In business since a single store opened in 1921, Fuller and Son Hardware Inc. has grown to a five-store chain in recent years with locations in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Maumelle.

Owner Bobby Fuller knows all five well, since he usually drops in on each store every day.

Such energy may explain how a local retail chain has survived and even prospered as megaretailers such as Home Depot and Wal-Mart have saturated its trade area.

According to Fuller, though, it's the people.

"The people that we hire - we train them ourselves," he said. "We think alike. If you're a kind and caring person, I can teach you hardware.

"We are known for the knowledge and kindness of our staff as well as our ability to save our customers time and money on their projects."

Fuller identified the company's biggest challenge as keeping "our neighborhood hardware store feel as we expand into more markets."

Fuller's grandfather opened the first Fuller and Son store, and it churned for 44 years before Bobby Fuller's father moved it to the current Baseline Road location in 1965. The company opened a second store on West Markham Street in 1975 and a third

on Cantrell Road

in 1985.

"My wife, Carolyn, and I opened our fourth [in Maumelle] in 1998," Fuller said. The pair started the latest addition, on JFK Boulevard in North Little Rock, in 2000.

The new store is "ahead of what we projected" in sales, Fuller said. Located in a former Wal-Mart building in the Indian Hills Shopping Center, the JFK store has the advantage of being neighbor to a very busy Kroger grocery store and a state revenue office, so that "everybody who lives around here has to come" by the store sooner or later, he said.

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