Cole Hardware Hotline Online
 Responses to the June question:

“What is your #1 difficulty in shopping at the Cole Hardware® stores in San Francisco?”

    First of all, I wish to thank all of you who took the time to give us such valuable feedback. We were overwhelmed with responses to the question we posed in the hardcopy version of the June 2001 Hardware Hotline! We had many, many good suggestions and we learned quite a bit about what it is like shopping in our stores -- sometimes the comments were sobering. However, most often, constructive, pleasant, and left us with smiles. I thought that I would share some with you, along with my responses.

Parking: Hundreds of you reminded us of how difficult it is to park at all four of our stores. I couldn’t agree more, and only wish that there were something we could do. We are looking into a valet parking service, and a few people even suggested we have our own bus service -- not a bad idea! Finally, for those of you who shop downtown, we do offer validated free parking at the Fifth and Mission garage. Just ask our cashiers when you check out.

Getting help on the telephone: This has always been a challenge for us. Our staff has to do “double duty” helping in the store and on the phones at the same time. We have honestly never come up with a good solution until recently. The new greeter position that we are implementing has proven to be a boon to our telephone patrons. The greeter is answering the telephone within three rings, whenever they are on duty. Our goal is to have this staffed 100% of the time, so hopefully this will get better. You can also email questions to (We will get back to you in less than 24 hours.)

Long lines at the checkout: We are concerned about this too. We are trying to tackle it on many fronts: a more efficient and easy to learn “cash register” software program, more cashiers, training cashiers to call for assistance more aggressively, cross-training our staff so that more people can assist cashiers, and trying to creatively figure out how to add temporary checkout terminals during busy times of the weekends. This is a focus for us. We truly want to make it easy to get out of our stores!

Delivery service: Many didn’t realize that we have one. In fact, we do. See Customer Services Directory for information.

The China question: This comes up from time to time. (For a longer response, see Hardware Hotline article, “What to do about China?” Suffice to say, that we are not happy either with labor conditions around the world. I make an issue of this with manufacturers whenever I have the opportunity.

We close too early: I think I will make this a separate “question of the month.” We are considering having longer hours during Daylight Savings Time. I would love to know what you think about this idea. Some even suggested that we stay open 24 hours. I’ve thought about it!

It is difficult to find products in the stores: I realize that. Our effort to rectify this will be apparent by the end of the summer at all four stores. There will be lots of subtle aisle signage, colored rope lights (with a directory) to guide you to your destination, and of course, our new greeters, too.

Rick Karp, President
- Hardware Hotline  August, 2001