The Competition Rufe’s Paint Store carries Diamond Vogel paint and Cabot, Messmer’s, Sikkens and Old Masters stain lines. It’s located in the same shopping center as a hardware store that carries Benjamin Moore brand paint. While some retailers might worry about how the proximity to a competitor affects their business, Romero doesn’t see it that way. He says his father taught him not to worry about the competition, but to “let them worry about you.” “We work together. They recommend us and we recommend them when the time comes,” he says. “It’s a good competition. Of course, it takes a while to establish yourself in the market and get to that point.” The Local Experts Romero and his family pride themselves on their product knowledge and knowledge of the paint industry. He says it’s not something you see too much of anymore—the big boxes are often made up of “order-takers” and experience high
turnover. With a small, knowledgeable staff, that’s not the case for Rufe’s. “We do a lot of interior decorating with our customers,” Romero says of his store’s process. “We help them with colors and even match other people’s colors. We ask for their fittings and have them bring in the fabrics they have in their surroundings. Other places don’t even think about that.” Romero also offers advice and insights specific to the area and warns against following advice from the internet, which may not be right for every region. “Everywhere in the country is different, and paint gets treated differently,” he says. “Higher altitude and lower altitude, they all do different things. This is a high altitude with extreme UV that can break down products.” A Busy Time Romero says his store has been fortunate to see an uptick in business during the pandemic. “People are home, so they are acting like real families and doing stuff at home,”
he says. “We’re more retail-focused than commercial, so we gathered those people. When the big boxes can’t match a paint or they don’t have product knowledge, those customers come to us.” During this time, Romero has done more business with Blish-Mize than ever before. His store has partnered with the distributor for more than 30 years, and Romero credits the relationship he has with his sales representative for his store’s loyalty over the years. “We pushed more of our business toward Blish-Mize because of him,” Romero says. “We like people who take care of us, and we, in turn, take care of them.” Romero says Blish-Mize has quality selection and service. “Blish-Mize is a good company,” he says. “They’re solid, and they’ve been here for 150 years. That speaks for itself. Just like us, they’ve weathered a lot of storms. It’s hard being in business in this day and age, especially as a family business. It’s very unique.”
Rufe’s Paint Store has called the Town Plaza shopping center in Durango, Colorado, home since 1960. The store has only changed locations once— in 1972, it moved two doors down into a larger 2,200-square-foot storefront.
Hardlines Strategies • Spring 2021 47
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