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Happy 22nd Birthday to Our Community Partners Assistance Program

It all started with a phone call. Well, that’s not entirely true—it started with a few hundred phone calls. Schools and nonprofit groups contribute tremendously to the well-being of our communities, but in order to exist in many cases, and certainly to improve the quality of what they offer, money is sorely needed by these organizations. Thus, the phone calls. Every day, as far back as the 1980s, I received as many as 10 calls in a day from community groups requesting cash donations or donations of merchandise. The calls came from large organizations, tiny dance troupes, and everything in between. I wanted to help them all, but I couldn’t. And I felt guilty about it. I understood their needs, but they weren’t aware of COLE HARDWARE’s reality. In fact, due to the ultra-slim bottom lines of most small businesses, donation requests are still a dilemma for many. (By the way, the requests still come in droves, but mostly by e-mail now. )Guilt has a way of fostering creativity. How could I turn a “yes” to every request into a positive for COLE HARDWARE? The light bulb went off: cause marketing was born here. When the calls came, I started saying yes—but with a catch. The recipient organization had to join our Community Partners program. In addition to providing donations, I created a pretty good list of benefits that made joining compelling, including publishing the names of all of our partners in our Hardware Hotline newsletter, thus making it truly a win-win partnership.

The organizations received donations, discounts, freebies, and more. We asked them to share the news of our partnership within their community. And we sweetened the deal by donating 10% of all purchases made by that community back to the school or nonprofit group. Everybody was happy, and my guilt turned into pride by the success of our Community Partners program. It made giving both heartwarming and fun.

Fast-forward to today. Our partnerships are still going strong. We have hundreds of schools and community groups partnering with us—814, in fact!
We still donate to fund-raisers, give discounts for special programs, and donate a percentage of sales back to our partners. We now also give away cases of our own Cutting Edge wines and Clearly COLE HARDWARE bottled water to sell or serve at fund-raising events. We spotlight individual groups in the Hardware Hotline, raise hundreds of dollars for selected groups with our Coins for the Community collections each month, and much, much more. And we’re still having fun doing it!
Our Community Partners program is core to our culture. It fills us with pride, and it makes giving as rewarding for us as receiving is for our recipients! If your school, church, or favorite nonprofit group is not yet partnering with us, please go to www.cole hardware.com/partners and join now.
–Rick

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Amazon: Before You Click, Think About the Impact

As I write this in mid-December, San Francisco is enduring Amazon’s latest experiment. There are billboards surrounding the City advertising one-hour delivery. Gone are the many big green trucks of last year’s attempt to deliver fresh groceries. Now we see many little white vans with the Amazon “frown” on the side. They are busy trying to live up to Amazon’s latest delivery promise. And I have to admit, they seem to be doing a pretty good job. But before you click, think about the impact on local businesses and our local economy. Your choice matters. Thanks to the research done by our friends at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (www.ilsr.org) I can present the following information to you:

Jobs. Amazon creates less than half as many jobs as local businesses do. For every $10 million in sales, Amazon employs just 19 people. In contrast, independent retailers create 47 jobs for that same $10 million.

Taxes. Yes, Amazon is finally collecting sales tax in California. But in addition to sales taxes, local businesses pay property taxes and other local fees for storefront locations, which is money that recirculates in our local economy and contributes to our collective well-being.

Local Economy. Remember, every dime you spend with Amazon benefits their shareholders and Seattle where they are headquartered. That’s cool perhaps if you have relatives or friends who live there. Otherwise, remember that local businesses feed and support your local community. We hire locally and have local supply chains where we purchase goods and services. Frankly, about half of every dollar we reap in sales is plowed back into the local
community one way or another.

Community. Amazon contributes nothing to our local nonprofit organizations and schools. Studies show that locally owned businesses give almost twice as much to the local community as big businesses in general. I know the depth of COLE HARDWARE’s support and involvement in our local communities. And I know of many other local businesses that are equally involved. Your local retailers know you are going to shop Amazon. But think about the impact before youclick. If San Francisco consumer spending shifted just 10%, San Francisco retailers would create nearly 1,300 jobs and pump more than $190 million into our community, and imagine those numbers applied to Oakland and the greater Bay Area. (Don’t take my word for it. Check out the study at http://sfloma.org/Studies). So, what’s the message? If you click 10% less and move those purchases to your favorite locally owned stores, our community will benefit immensely: you’ll help create jobs and keep our neighborhoods vibrant. Resist the urge to shop Amazon. Think about it before you click. – Rick

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Download Our New App and Keep Cole Hardware Handy Wherever You Go!

Download the brand-new COLE HARDWARE app to your iPhone or Android smartphone. You’ll have quick and easy access to our hours and locations. But more important, you can “Ask us anything” right from the app. Press the dialogue bubble, text us your question, and we’ll get right back to you! Check out the screenshots and see for yourself how simple it is. It’s free, of course, and just one more small way we are working to fulfill our simple mission: “Our commitment to you: Your satisfaction guaranteed. Period.”

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Coins for the Community Tops $35,000!

donationsWhat a difference a dime or a dollar makes! We’re happy to report that in November our spare change collection netted $1,733.24 for Groceries for Seniors in San Francisco and St. Paul’s Pantry of Hope in Oakland, who distribute nutritious, fresh food to senior citizens on a weekly basis. This brings our grand total to $36,590.59 raised since we started our collection program. Our December collection is earmarked for W.O.M.A.N., Inc. to support the many programs it offers. We’ll report those numbers next month.

Our January spare change collection will benefit SaveNature.org in its quest to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. Its Insect Discovery Lab is a hands-on traveling lab that visits schools and other events with arthropods, including darkling beetles and giant walking sticks. Kids get a kick out of holding these giant bugs while at the same time learning about nature. We’ll be hosting some of the insects at our stores in the new year, too.

It’s easy to donate to Coins for the Community! Simply drop your spare change in any of our collection jars or choose the “Donate” option when you’re checking out at any of our registers. Or bring in that old jar of pennies that’s collecting dust on your dresser.

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Ladies’ Night Returns Wednesday, October 7, 4:00 pm to Closing

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Collection: Underwear for the Underserved

underwearWe’ve all heard the line from our mothers, “Always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.” And most of us have the luxury of wearing clean underclothes daily. Unfortunately, for thousands of homeless and underserved folks in San Francisco with no access to laundry facilities, clean underclothes are not a reality. Along with our friends at St. Anthony Foundation, all Cole Hardware locations will serve as drop-off sites for new underwear during the month of September. For obvious reasons, we can only accept new items in their original, unopened packaging and/or with manufacturer tags. We will be happy to take any new undergarments—including underpants, T-shirts, socks, and bras. Don’t forget children’s sizes, too!

In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, the mission of St. Anthony Foundation is to feed, heal, shelter, clothe, and lift the spirits of those in need and to create a society in which all people flourish. They are committed to providing the poor of San Francisco with basic needs and services as a gateway to reclaiming their sense of dignity and progressing toward stability. No need for designer duds, plain tighty-whities will be gratefully accepted!

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Awards Season!

We are proud to announce that Cole Hardware has recently won three awards! We are both honored and humbled tawardso have been chosen as the recipient of the California Product Stewardship Council’s Infinity Arrow Award, San Francisco Magazine’s Best Hardware Store, and 7×7’s Cause Local Effect Award™.

Our recycling programs, packed aisles, knowledgeable and attentive staff, and Community Partners program all helped in our being selected for these honors. We love being part of the Bay Area community and are happy to be a resource in so many ways.

California Product Stewardship Council’s Infinity Arrow Award:

Cole Hardware was one of four companies operating in California honored by the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) during the organization’s 6th annual Arrow Awards ceremony held in Los Angeles in August at the California Resource Recovery Association’s 39th annual conference and trade show.

Cole Hardware is the winner of the 2015 Infinity Arrow Award for Service and Take-Back. This award is given to a retail business, group of businesses, or chain that has initiated an outstanding take-back program for one or more products as an added convenience and service for its customers and that works with the producers of those products in developing safe storage and recovery of used products and packaging.

We are one of the two original retailers that partner with the San Francisco Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program (Retail Program), which started in 1997. Our participation in the program allows customers to conveniently drop off their household batteries, and our take-back services have since expanded to all our locations, where we now collect batteries, paint, fluorescent bulbs, and empty camp-size propane cylinders. We’re astonished at how popular the program is in our stores. In fact, our four San Francisco locations collected 24% of the total waste collected through the Retail Program last fiscal year. “Cole Hardware is truly a leader in the retail industry by providing take-back services for such a large number of products,” said Heidi Sanborn, executive director of CPSC.

San Francisco Magazine’s Best Hardware Store:

The Best of 2015 issue noted that our “packed aisles lend the impression that every home improvement product lies within 40 feet.” Our knowledgeable and attentive staff, as well as our Repair Referral Service, also received a shout-out.

7×7’s Cause Local Effect Award:

The Cause Local Effect Award is 7×7’s way of recognizing locally owned businesses that give to charity or do other good deeds in the community—allowing customers to make more conscientious choices in their everyday lives. This award is sponsored by dailyKARMA™, whose vision is to enhance social giving and enrich people’s lives by spreading gratitude.

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Sidewalk Sale

As part of San Francisco’s Small Business Week, all Cole Hardware locations—including our Oakland Rockridge store—will celebrate with a sidewalk sale on May 16, along with merchants across the various business corridors in the City. We’ll be cleaning house and lining the sidewalks at each of our stores with hundreds of bargains! We have lots of merchandise that is in good shape but shopworn—ripped packaging or maybe a little scratched or dusty. We need to empty the warehouse and make room for summer and fall merchandise. Everything will be marked down 25% to 75%, so you’ll be able to fnd some exceptional deals.

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Hardware Happy Hour and Create a Salvaged Planter

Wednesday, March 18 5:00 pm–8:00 pm

Bring a small salvaged item to our Hardware Happy Hour Wednesday, March 18, and we’ll provide the supplies for your project.

Bring a small salvaged item to our Hardware Happy Hour Wednesday, March 18, and we’ll provide the supplies for your project.

Kick off spring with Cole Hardware at our Hardware Happy Hour, held at each of our five locations. Not only can you enjoy a glass of our Cutting Edge wine and save $10 on a $20+ purchase, but you can also create a fun planter with a salvaged item that you find around the house! Almost any old item can be transformed into a planter with personality: an old boot, a teakettle, a rustic watering can—you name it. Just bring your salvaged treasure to Happy Hour, and we’ll supply the soil and up to five succulents to help reinvent your vessel. You’ll leave with a cool planter that will add a unique flair to your garden, patio, or porch.

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Grand Opening Sale!

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