The bitter cold and gusty winds made it a December night like many before, but Jeff and Carolyn Bailey would remember the night of December 15, 2010, for far different reasons. Around 2 a.m. they awoke to the sound of a fire raging out of control right next to their home…and it was their business that was being consumed by the flames.
“It just seemed like a bad dream,” Jeff says. “We couldn’t believe that this was happening to us.”
The store ended up a complete loss—nothing was salvageable—
The Baileys’ ordeal was just beginning. As they sifted through the charred remains of their business, the reality of the situation started sinking in. “We had very little insurance, only $90,000, because the cost was so high and we hadn’t re-evaluated it in awhile,” Jeff admits.
The business had started in 1993 mainly as a carpet store, but they began gradually adding hardware after turning to House Hasson Wholesale Hardware in 1995. That would be the relationship that would offer new hope for their optimistic plans to rebuild.
They have always had the same territory manager, Larry Collins, and he quickly jumped into action so they could reopen as soon as possible. “Larry does a good job of taking care of us. He’s just like family,” Jeff says.
Rebuilding efforts started in February after the cleanup was finally completed. House Hasson Wholesale Hardware helped plan the new store inside and out, and one of the design goals was to make it more convenient for Bailey’s customers. For example, the front entry was designed so there are no steps into the store. The aisles are a little wider and the lighting a little brighter.
The merchandise mix was tweaked to add more core hardware products while making sure space was allocated to niche such as fireplaces and heaters, outdoor power equipment, Carhartt clothing, Georgia boots and, of course, carpeting. “We added work clothing just before the fire and we kept that so we have a nice variety for customers to keep them from driving to another town,” Jeff says.
Lawn and garden is now a big category and they also added Gray Seal paint and installed the Husqvarna timber display. “They come in to buy a weedeater and discover we sell shirts and paint too,” he points out.
House Hasson Wholesale Hardware makes sure they stock the products their customers need and they make pricing recommendations, which is helpful because Bailey’s competes against a Lowe’s 15 miles away.
The store reopened the day after Labor Day, Sept. 6, and early returns have been promising. “We still have a few holes to fill, but we’re getting there. We’re definitely carrying more hardware products, which makes us more valuable to our customers,” says Jeff, who also serves on the city council.
They were planning a grand reopening for November, which will be a chance to thank the community for their support during their time of need. “The community response has been very gratifying,”
The Baileys jointly own the business with Jeff’s brother, James, who operates Bailey’s Furniture and Appliance down the street. Family takes care of family, which is why they were not surprised that House Hasson Wholesale Hardware stepped in to help them revive their business.
Bailey is a man of strong religious faith but after the fire he found himself wondering, “Lord, is that you talking to me?” He briefly questioned why such a tragedy could happen to him and his family, but soon came to the conclusion that he was blessed.
"We take our life, health and business for granted. Everything in a store is replaceable but not people’s lives. This event let me know that some things are temporary,” Jeff says. “There are so many times I’ve seen an unseen hand at work in my life, and He has never let me down. So we pray God will bless this store and we count our many blessings.”
In its 104th year of operation, House-Hasson Wholesale Hardware serves 17 states, the Caribbean basin, and several other foreign countries. The company is approaching $200 million in annual sales.
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House Hasson Wholesale Hardware is the largest independent regional wholesale hardware distributor in America. House Hasson Hardware is a full service, hardware wholesale distributor.