Jump to content

Hardware store

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A German Hardware store
A hardware store in China. The style and products offered in this Haikou City store are typical of hundreds of thousands of hardware stores throughout the country.
A hardware store in Telluride, Colorado c. 1903

Hardware stores (in a number of countries, "shops"), sometimes known as DIY stores, sell household hardware for home improvement including: fasteners, building materials, hand tools, power tools, keys, locks, hinges, chains, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, cleaning products, housewares, tools, utensils, paint, and lawn and garden products directly to consumers for use at home or for business. Many hardware stores have specialty departments unique to its region or its owner's interests. These departments include hunting and fishing supplies, plants and nursery products, marine and boating supplies, pet food and supplies, farm and ranch supplies including animal feed, swimming pool chemicals, homebrewing supplies and canning supplies.[1][2][3][failed verification] The five largest hardware retailers in the world are The Home Depot, Lowe's (both in the United States), Kingfisher of the United Kingdom, Obi of Germany, and Leroy Merlin of France.[not verified in body]

Australia and New Zealand[edit]

Mitre 10 MEGA store interior in Pakenham, Australia

In Australia hardware stores specialise in home décor and include large selections of paint. There are three major hardware companies in Australia: Bunnings, Mitre 10 and Home Hardware. Home Hardware is a retailers' co-operative and has many banners which store owners trade under.

Since the acquisition of Bunnings by Wesfarmers in 1994, the big-box store concept has changed how new hardware stores are built. In 2004, Mitre 10 built its first supercentre Mitre 10 MEGA with an average store size of 13,500 m2. These were later either closed or turned into large-concept Mitre 10 stores. In 2011 Masters Home Improvement entered the market and opened more than 49 stores, with an average footprint of 13,500 m2. Masters Home Improvement, which was the second-largest hardware chain in Australia, closed in December 2016.[4]

Bunnings also operates in New Zealand, competing against Mitre 10 New Zealand and Hammer Hardware. The Australian Bunnings and Mitre 10 Mega format have also been introduced to New Zealand.[5]


Home Hardware, Rona, Canac, BMR Group and Réno-Dépôt are Canadian hardware retailers. Aikenhead's Hardware became the Canadian unit of The Home Depot in 1994. Canadian Tire, Central, Kent Building Supplies, Lowe's and many smaller chains also sell hardware in Canada.


Most hardware stores in China, whether in the city or rural areas, are small, family-owned, non-franchise companies. They provide similar products to Western hardware stores, including plumbing and electrical supplies, tools, and some housewares. They do not normally carry lumber, fishing supplies, gardening products, or boating supplies. Some rural hardware stores supply animal feed, such as chicken feed.

Common to most non-Western countries, China has specialty hardware stores, dedicated to selling products in a particular category. These stores are usually grouped together in a shopping district. Examples are groups of stores that specialize in:

  • Chain, carrying different sizes of chain, couplings, lifting hooks, cutters, etc.
  • Generators and compressors, selling parts, hoses, plus products and tools related the maintenance and repair of generators and compressors.
  • Tubing and metal rods of various sizes and materials.
  • Large power tools, with accessories.
  • Electrical wire and wire rope, electrical switches, fuse boxes, wire rope sockets, clamps, and thimbles.

United Kingdom[edit]

B&Q Warehouse store, Grimsby

In the United Kingdom, hardware stores can be known as ironmongers, DIY stores and home improvement stores. British retail chains include B&Q, Homebase, and Wickes. Australian hardware chain Bunnings opened their first shop in St Albans in February 2017 and planned to convert several other Homebase shops into pilot Bunnings shops after acquiring them in February 2016.[citation needed]

United States[edit]

Advertisement for hardware dealers from Neville's Macon Directory and Advertiser for 1869–70

Larger hardware stores may also sell building supplies including lumber, flooring, roofing materials and fencing. Such stores are often referred to as home-improvement centers or home centers.

There may be fewer hardware stores in the US now than in the past, but according to the US Census Bureau, there were still 14,300 hardware stores in the US in 2005, employing on average 10 employees each.[6] Despite competition from large chain stores (commonly referred to as big-box or destination hardware stores, e.g., The Home Depot, Lowe's and Menards) new hardware stores in the US continue to open.[7]

There are four major nationwide wholesale suppliers to hardware stores. All four report more than US$1 billion in annual sales.[8][failed verification] Two of them operate as retailers' cooperatives: Do It Best Corp, from Fort Wayne Indiana, and Ace Hardware from Oakbrook Illinois.[8][full citation needed] Hardware store owners purchase stock in these suppliers and may choose to include the name of the cooperative in the advertised name of the store. The fourth[clarification needed] nationwide supplier is Orgill, Inc., a traditional wholesale organization.

A typical Home Depot store

Hardware stores also purchase from a variety of regional wholesalers and specialty manufacturers. Some hardware stores operate rental businesses which can offer equipment from construction tools to inflatable playhouses. The major hardware cooperatives provide brand name rental advertising and support for hardware store owners including Just Ask Rental, Party Central, Grand Rental Station and Taylor Rental, all four of which are brands owned by the True Value Company.

Elwood Adams Hardware of Worcester, Massachusetts claims to be the oldest operating hardware store in the US, having begun business in 1782.[9][10]

Unique services in hardware stores[edit]

Part of the popularity of American hardware stores is the range of services they provide. Most retail outlets only sell goods, while some hardware stores custom-make or repair a large variety of household items. It is common for a hardware store in the US to repair broken windows and screens, repair power equipment such as lawn mowers, re-key entry locks, make copies of house keys and car keys, re-wire lamps and vacuum cleaners, sharpen knives and cutting tools, make minor repairs to faucet and shower parts, repair kerosene heaters and cut and thread plumbing pipe.

Hardware industry trade association[edit]

The North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA[11]) is a membership organization that provides training and resources for hardware store owners and publishes a trade magazine in print and online.

Europe and the Middle East[edit]

A hardware store in France
K-Rauta hardware store in Alajärvi, Finland
Praxis Amsterdam-Zuidoost big box store

European-based stores include:


In India hardware stores are mostly small businesses, with no major store chains that carry a large selection of products. Stores lack ample floor space compared to their Western counterparts, but are usually stocked with a wide variety of items.

Indian hardware stores are similar to hardware stores around the world, offering products from several categories such as plumbing, machinery, household, gardening, manufacturing, cobbler, carpenter, and electrical.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Downes, Lawrence (October 10, 2007). "A Do-It-Yourselfer Taps His Effervescent Spirit". The New York Times. Retrieved August 27, 2023.
  2. ^ MacMillan, Douglas (September 15, 2006). "Tools Small Hardware Stores Can Use". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on September 13, 2008.
  3. ^ [1] Entrepreneur[dead link]
  4. ^ Pash, Chris (2016-08-25). "This is why the Masters hardware business failed". Business Insider Australia. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  5. ^ Bradley, Grant (5 January 2008). "Battle of the giant hardware barns". APN News & Media. New Zealand Herald.
  6. ^ Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009 – Table 1008. Retail Trade – Establishments, Employees, and Payroll: 2000 and 2005 (PDF) (Report). US Census Bureau. 9 May 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  7. ^ Carpenter, Dave (January 22, 2007). "Nailing its niche". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. Retrieved August 27, 2023.
  8. ^ a b "SEC.gov - Filings & Forms". www.sec.gov. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  9. ^ Elwood Adams Hardware. Archived 2011-01-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Axelbank, Jay (May 31, 1998). "In Ridgefield, Farewell to a Family Business". The New York Times. p. 195. Retrieved August 27, 2023.
  11. ^ "NRHA - North American Retail Hardware Association - NRHA.org". nrha.org. Retrieved 11 April 2018.

External links[edit]