Written by Phil Corso, firstname.lastname@example.org Wednesday, 18 December 2013 09:58
The gigantic inflatable dinosaur figure in the middle of Plainview’s Trio Hardware says it all.
“Personal service is not extinct here,” the sign underneath the creature says. “Nice customers deserve nice service.”
That policy helped propel the venerable Plainview storefront to being selected as America’s favorite small business in a national competition sponsored by Chrysler. Trio was awarded the INDIE award, courtesy of the small business-oriented United We Stand organization, beating out nine other finalists and several other nominees from across the country.
“Everybody sees the need for small businesses in this country,” said Francesca Carlow, co-owner of the 50-year Plainview mainstay. “Small businesses are really suffering today.”
Carlow and her husband, co-owner Bruce, entered the contest over the summer and came out on top after several rounds of voting, claiming a $15,000 award and several other perks. When they heard the news of their winnings, Francesca Carlow said her entire 15-member team were somewhere between shocked and excited.
“This is a true family business,” said co-owner Todd Kirschner, who has worked at the Plainview shop for over two decades with now-wife Ritsa. “When you treat everyone like family, they are bound to come back.”
Kirschner said the biggest misperception when it comes to shopping locally came down to price. He said the public generally thinks local mom-and-pop shops end up costing more cash, but that’s not always the case.
“We don’t need to compete with the bigger chain stores,” he said. “We provide a service that they don’t. The public’s perception is our biggest thing to overcome.”
Carlow said the Internet has taken a hefty toll on small business owners across Nassau County — and the country — but there were still some things the click of a mouse could never duplicate.
“Everybody should shop local,” she said. “We are the people who support the community. We need their support too. We need them to purchase from us.”
Trio suffered a severe blaze back in 1996 — almost 17 years to the day — but battled back to maintain its presence in the community, Carlow said. After the devastating seven-alarm fire, ownership’s friends, family and neighbors rallied together to bring the store back to its prominence after nine long months of renovations.
“This is a tremendous and well-deserved honor for Bruce, Francesca, Todd and Ritsa,” said Gary Epstein, Plainview-Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce president. “Trio Hardware has beaten the odds in maintaining an independent presence in this world of big box stores. “
Upon entering the Trio storefront, Carlow said the front desk always greets customers immediately before getting a look at the enormous display of various hardware needs. Pieces of seasonal goods hang from the ceiling and the 16-foot walls are lined all the way to the ceiling, the owners remarked.
And with a motto of, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it,” Trio’s 3,500 square-foot headquarters earned its status as a community staple, which could also be noted along its back wall, where local sports teams’ photos line the interior.
“When people come in here, they say we’re like a city store,” Carlow said. “We utilize every bit of space we have here. It’s something we take a lot of pride in.”