Welcome to our new Website 01/12/2012

A New Beginning for OldSchoolHardware.com

When Katie and I first bought Pfeiffer's Hardware, we realized that if we were going to make it OURS we needed to change the name. We spent a lot of time trying to think of just what it was we were trying to convey to customers. We didn't want something cute, we didn't want something as bland as just sticking "hardware" on the end of the neighborhood, and we wanted something that simply and clearly explained what we sold and who we were.

The website that we developed for the store was my attempt at creating a very simple and straigtforward website. As you can see, I achieved that. The design was too simple, and it was both boring and flat. I had this idea that I would keep a blog going about the store and what was happening in the neighborhood and that people would visit the site and comment on stuff and see the goods that we had in our store. But, I didn't do a very good job with the blog and I think the site turned enough people off that very few people would ever visit it. Also, behind the scenes, the server that we put it on was very under-powered and it made making changes to the website an agonizing experience. After having owned the store for a year in August 2011, Katie and I realized we needed to step up our game.

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As smart DIYers will tell you, there's a point where you need to realize that you are in over your head and you need to bring in the professionals. Now, I know how to build databases and program content management systems, but I am not very good at taking photographs or coming up with great designs. So, we brought in three very talented indivduals to help us. Darren Higgins is responsible for the gorgeous photography you see in the site (of which we hope to showcase more soon), and Amy Patnovic and Andy Weishaar are responsible for the vibrant and dynamic site design. We also have to thank our models who posed for Darren (see the About Page).

As part of our design process, Katie and I tried to really spend some time thinking through what we were trying to convey when we described it as "Old School Hardware". We've gotten feedback from some people that they like it because it's kind of 'hipster'. We'll let you decide for yourself. What we wanted people to think about is that it is the kind of place that you can go where you'll probably find what you need, or find someone who can help you figure out what you need. The kind of place where other customers are just as likely to help you as the staff, not our of sympathy over how bad the customer service is like at a big-box store, but out of a genuine sense of neighborliness and collaboration.

It's truly a challenge, but we tried to capture that spirit in this website.

But you are a hardware store...

One of the first things you'll notice on the site is the word "Neighborhood" in the top navigation. It was important to us to make sure that we connected the online presense to the neighborhood. But, as we started to do that, we realized that one of the things that makes a store like ours great isn't that it is in one part of the city versus another, but that the people who are in the store make up a community. Our store becomes a cross roads for people throughout the area. We realized that our business and our website could play a role in linking together neighborhoods and communities that are sometimes only blocks apart, but that can seem seperate and far away.

So, we wanted to develop pages that reflected each neighborhood and community. We wanted to put up links to local businesses, list special events or community meetings, and post fun facts and pictures. In a lot of ways, it is sort of like the community bulletin board you might see at the back of any decent hardware store. Then we started thinking about how hard it was to keep up a blog. Then we started thinking how hard it would be to keep our fingers on the pulse of so many differnt neighborhoods. We realized it might turn into a full time job. But then we started thinking that if we were going to go about doing it that way, it would ultimately fail. Those community bulletin boards are useful because they are organic. If they are going to be a success, it's because the community is providing the content and the input for what should go up there. We invite you to participate. Send us pictures, fun facts, and links that describe your community. If you are a contractor or handyman that works in that area and can provide three references, we'll post a link on the page for you.

Store

Most hardware stores don't have much in the way of online shopping. It takes a pretty substantial web site to be able to handle all the pictures and descriptions of all the different products that you carry. Our main supplier has over 60,000 products that they sell, and we have other suppliers who also have tens of thousands of products. We're happy to order anything they carry. They deliver it right to our store and we'll hold it for you til you can come and get it. The problem is, it's tedious having to sort through all of that inventory just to find what you need. In all liklihood, we're more than like carry what you are looking for in the 5,000 products we bring through the store from year to year.

So, we figured out a way to transfer data to our point of sale system and then pull product data from our suppliers so that you can look through our the products that we typically carry on our shelves. When we can, we have pictures and descriptions of the products. You may see some pretty squirrelly names or products in there, we're working on it.

Now, you can see what's in the store. We update the data at least once a day during the week and we're still figuring out weekends. But now, you can check and see whether that thing you need is on hand and how much it is. What's more, you can actually create a shopping cart and place an order. If you get your order in by 9am, we'll try to have it ready by 1pm. If you get your order in by 2pm, we'll try to have it ready by 5pm. (We're still working out the kinks on the weekends.)

In the future, we also hope to be able to display a diagram of the store so that if you need to just pop in and grab something, you'll know exactly where to find it.

Customer Profile / Customer Dashboard / Customer Login

It all starts with the Store Account. When you sign up for a Customer Courtesy Card, we create a Store Account for you. This will help us track your purchase history and recognize you as a repeat customer. New for 2012, we've set up a reward program where we give you $25 in store credit for every $250 you spend in the store.

You can also setup an Online Account. This lets you save shopping carts and track your order status. When you link your Store Account to your Online Account, we can also let you track your Rewards, and show you your purchase history. We think these are tools that you will want to use as a customer.

What's more, you don't necessairily need to remember yet another UserName and Password. We've teamed up with a company called JanRain that will let you use your Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, LinkedIn account to log into our site.

We've also set up a Product Review system. You can visit product detail pages and leave reviews or comments about individual products. You can also read reviews that other people have left. We'll take these into account as we continue to order more products. As we move forward, we may move this functionality into more areas of the site, like the Neighborhood Section or the blog section.

And so, Welcome

We've put a lot of thought and work into this website. But, it's got a long way to go. We hope you'll want to be part of that. On the back of every one of our Customer Courtesy Cards, Katie and I wrote a little letter to our Customers. On it we say "Old School Hardware is your store too..." We mean that and we believe that. We want you to think of this website that way as well. Please let us know how we can make it better meet your needs.

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3219 Mt. Pleasant St NW Washington, DC 20010 | 202-462-1431

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