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Angerstein's Building Supply & Design Center: Greene family caters to large customer base

Angerstein's has learned how to adapt and change in an ever-changing business climate and still manages to offer new and exciting products for everyone. The 18,000-sq.-ft. store carries an eclectic variety of product, from ready-mix concrete and paving stones to outdoor lights and casual furniture.

 Angerstein

 Angerstein's exterior has changed since its first building was purchased in 1924 by Albert H. Angerstein Sr.
 Angerstein

Founded in 1924, the single store operation will grow to two locations later this year, with plans to build a second store in Sussex County, Del. A family-run business, Angerstein's opened for business when Albert H. Angerstein Sr. purchased a small company that sold coal and feed. His son, Albert H. Angerstein Jr., ran the business and added hardware, building materials and heating oil to the product offerings. In 1963, Bruce W. Greene, Angerstein's son-in-law, joined the business. Under his direction as the current president and CEO, Angerstein's now services contractors, home builders, homeowners and do-it-yourselfers. Today, every member of the Greene family is active in the operations of the company.

Angerstein's Design Center is built around a circular walkway that takes the customer through the different product offerings. Within the design center, Angerstein's features a Residential Lighting Center, for example. Chandeliers, track, rail and recessed lighting, landscape lighting and more can be found in one of the retailer's specialty areas. In the outdoor arena, mailboxes, casual furniture, umbrellas, hammocks, fire pits and chimineas, hearth products and a variety of accessories round out the eclectic product mix.

In fact, lighting is the No. 1 seller at the store, followed by fireplaces and patio furniture. Major outdoor vendors include Summer Classics, Suncoast, R.H. Peterson, Weber, Vermont Castings, Currey & Company, Tag, Panacea and Heatilator.

Average annual sales for the company are $10.5 million, up from the previous year's $9.8 million.

"Angerstein's product mix and quality of merchandise makes it a unique store," said Marketing Director Kristen Greene Ursomarso. "At Angerstein's the quality of the products is impressive, but they come without the big price tag. Our store manager finds that cross merchandising is the most effective means of displaying our unique merchandise. It makes our showroom more comfortable than the box stores, and lends an air of sophistication."

Angerstein's competition with mass merchants in the area is present, and Ursomarso said it adversely affects the store today. The company simply de-emphasized product lines that weren't working and pursued other categories. "When you've been in business for over 80 years, you learn how to change and adapt with the business environment," she said.

 Lighting is Angerstein

 Lighting is Angerstein's No.1 seller and is housed in the store's Residential Lighting Center. Everything from chandeliers to landscape lighting is carried.

Because of the vast product mix, Angerstein's target customer varies greatly. There are builders, contractors, do-it-yourselfers — predominantly male-oriented, Ursomarso said. "However, women make so many of the decisions regarding home improvements, and do a majority of the shopping, so the female consumer is equally important," she said.

Product at Angerstein's goes on sale twice a year — in the spring and fall — and the sales are held in conjunction with Home & Garden Seminars, where customers can learn about home decor and garden design projects.

"Angerstein's seminars are very popular and well-attended," Ursomarso said. "Customers are invited to our store on Saturday mornings to learn about different home improvement projects. All seminars are free. Some are annual events, such as the 'Build Your Own Paving Stone Patio,' demonstration, others feature well-known craftspeople from our community."

Four years ago, Angerstein's also added a new event to the Spring Home & Garden seminars called the Outdoor Fair. The first Saturday of May, employees pull out all of the outdoor products to the parking lot and have a huge sale. And each year, the store does something different to make it kid-friendly while the parents shop. This May, someone was on hand to cook hot dogs on a Weber grill. Additionally, "garage sales" also are held every few years. Very slow-moving merchandise may end up at Angerstein's local Habitat for Humanity resale shop.

Ursomarso said the biggest challenges at Angerstein's is keeping the pricing current on all of the merchandise. "Vendors seem to constantly send us new pricing, especially with the increase in gas prices," she said. "Other than that, we have to work to keep our sales associates knowledgeable about the numerous and very technical products we sell."

The upside to working at Angerstein's is helping customers who are renovating an existing home or building a new one, Ursomarso said.

"And all the sales associates love when new merchandise comes into the store," she said. "We say every day is like Christmas here, because we are always opening up new merchandise and putting it on the sales floor."

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