Connecticut sees an abundance of new stores open every year. However, not all of them last. Let alone last for 45 years. Keough’s Paint & Hardware, though, they discovered the recipe for success. That’s what makes them the name you can trust.
Keough’s Paint & Hardware opened up in 1972 and quickly became a neighborhood staple. Even as big box stores moved into the area, their customer base remained loyal. Actually, it grew every year, which inspired the opening of a 2nd location. It’s because Keough’s genuinely became an integral part of the community.
Besides, once you walk through their Ridgefield or Stamford doors for the first time, you become family. And you’re even treated like a family member and not just a customer. You really can’t find such attentive and efficient service at any store.
But at Keough’s Paint & Hardware, it’s their sense of pride. They offer fair prices, above-and-beyond expectations of service, and are always looking to improve.
I sat down with Bill Keough, the son of store-founder Ed Keough, to ask him what it is about Keough’s Paint & Hardware that makes it such a success story. Instead, I got to experience the passion Bill has for his father’s legacy. Also, I learned about how he plans to carry the tradition through another 45 years.
Also, if you need hurricane and blizzard tips, Bill had some great advice on how to deal with severe weather. And, should Connecticut be on the direct path of something nasty, here’s why you need to go to Keough’s Paint & Hardware.
1. Let’s jump into the big celebration: Keough’s Paint & Hardware is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, which is a phenomenal accomplishment. What are you doing to celebrate?
We will be celebrating from September 14 through the 24th with a 45th anniversary sale that features items throughout the store on sale. Sale items range in discount up to 45%!
Plus starting on Saturday September 16th we will be giving away 45th anniversary commemorative t-shirts and hats. Customers will also have the opportunity to enter to win a Weber Spirit E-210 gas grill. Also on Saturday we will be firing up a Weber gas grill and cooking hotdogs free to all who come on down to help us celebrate.
2. Let’s go back in time because I love hearing local stories about history. How did Keough’s get started? Also, how has Keough’s changed over the years?
In 1972 my father Ed Keough Sr. left the corporate world and established Keough’s Paint and Hardware on Rt. 7 in Ridgefield. He first opened in a small space a stone throw up the street from the current location at 1 Ethan Allen Highway.
“I was looking for a high visibility location that would service the local community. When we first opened I was in what is currently a Dunkin Donuts located across from the Branchville train station. The location was perfect. We were conveniently located at the four corners of Ridgefield, Wilton, Redding and Georgetown.” Ed reflected.
Ed saw a need for a service oriented paint and hardware store in that area and he was right. “Because of our commitment to quality, service, and value we outgrew our original store space in 5 years. And built Keough Plaza.”
The three-acre plaza on Route 7 just north of the Wilton town line includes two buildings and parking for some 75 cars. From our original beginnings in 1600 square feet we now occupy over 8000 square feet for our paint and hardware store and about 10 years ago added equipment rental to our mix. We know rent everything from jack hammers, to rug cleaners to mini excavators.
That move just down the street in 1977 was just the beginning. In 1990 the Keough family bought Turn of River Hardware in Stamford. It was the right opportunity to expand our business.
Interestingly the Stamford location was a store that the local hardware wholesaler showed my dad in 1971 when he was researching the hardware industry before making the decision to open his first store.
The Turn of River location in Stamford was marvel for the time. My dad knew that he wanted to open a topnotch store like that one. When we were looking to expand and that location was for sale it made perfect sense to have Keough’s second location be the old Turn of River Hardware in Stamford.
There was more growth to come. “We have been successful for 45 years because we listen to our customers. We give them the service and products they deserve.” From Benjamin Moore and Pratt and Lambert paints to Jonathan Green lawn products and Weber grills, Keough’s is more than your ordinary hardware store. “It is always satisfying when a customer comes in and says, I have been everywhere and you guys are the only store that had what I was looking for.”
In 2004 Keough’s found another niche that was undeserved in the area. “I was looking for another way to grow my business and found a need for a tool and equipment rental store”. It was a natural fit, said Bill. Whether you are a homeowner or contractor there are many projects you may need a specific tool or machine to get the job done but you don’t have it in your basement or workshop. We now can offer that tool for rent.
All of our equipment is either new or like new. We can do this by regularly servicing our equipment and replacing it with new equipment. We regularly sell our job site tested equipment at a great price to our customers. In turn we invest that money in new equipment, which allows us to guarantee quality, reliable equipment for our customers.
“It doesn’t matter if you are renting a wallpaper steamer or a mini-excavator, it is important that it performs the job every time. And we guarantee it.”
3. What is Keough’s secret to success?
People often ask how we compete today with all the competition we face and the answer is pretty simple. We offer the convenience of being local and add in top quality service and quality products. We invest in keeping our stores well stocked, clean and updated and our team happy.
Many of our team members have been working at Keough’s for over 20 years and many more 10 plus years. That experience and dedication allows our customers to develop relationships with our team that last for years. It is nice to be able to go into a store, especially one where you might have questions you are afraid to ask, and find a friendly face who is willing to help you solve your problems.
4. What do you think local stores, like yours, have that the big chains don’t?
We have ability to communicate directly with our customers every day. We get to know our customers and what they like and can really shape our services and products to fit our local customers needs.
Customers see value in supporting a local business. There is a connection that we have with our customers. We hire locally for full-time and part-time positions. We have hired many teenagers of customers throughout the years.
As a first job there is no better way to get experience in the “real world”.Our young team members leave with a world of experience not only in sales and service but with hands on knowledge of taking care their home, lawn and gardens. The bond we develop with those families last a lifetime.
It is amazing how many Keough alums come back as adults with their children and talk about the positive experience they had working here. Our team gets real satisfaction knowing that they can help impact our neighbors in a positive way. Whether it is helping finding the right screw to complete a simple but important project or being there in a time of need during snow storms and hurricanes.
5. So, our weather forecasters say we’re in for a tough hurricane season, what does Keough’s Paint & Hardware offer to help residents should a hurricane ever come our way? Could you share some hurricane safety tips?
We have a wide variety of products and services that can truly help our customers in a time of need. Hurricanes will bring rain, wind and flooding. With that downed trees, power outages and basement flooding are common problems our customers have to deal with.
We watch the weather closely and will prep for storms by increasing our inventory levels on essential emergency products. Flashlights and batteries are staple items that our customers stock up on when storms are predicted. Sump pumps, hoses and wet/dry vacuums are important tools to have ready to cleanup any basement flooding. We sell and rent chainsaws which are essential to clearing fallen trees and branches from properties. Having a good strong tarp and rope on hand to cover a roof if a fallen branch or tree causes damage is good idea.
Other items that are important for storm prep including keeping a good supply of water on hand. Many of our customers have wells supplying water to their homes. If the is no power then their well pumps will not work and they will be without water. In preparation customers should store as much water as possible to use for cooking, cleaning and flushing of toilets.
We recommend storing water in 5 gallon pails with lids and also filling the bathtub with water. Customers should check to make sure the stopper in the tub works otherwise all the water will leak down the drain. If we are in direct line of tropical storm or hurricane winds customers should tape up their windows to prevent shattering of windows. We sell hurricane tape which is strong but easy to remove without leaving residue on the window.
Many customers will call days before a storm about generators. By then it is too late. You have to think of a generator like insurance. You buy it but hope you will never have to use it. Generators should be set up or installed advance of a storm to make sure they work properly and power the essentials you will need like heat, hot water, refrigeration and some lighting.
Always test your generator year round to make sure it runs properly. The most common problem with generators is bad gas. If untreated gas is left in a generator for too long it will not run properly. I run my generator every other month and replace the gas at least once a year. These are good ideas for snow throwers as well.
6. The Old Farmer’s Almanac promises we’ll get a ton of snow this year – how will Keough’s prepare to make sure it has everything to accommodate everyone’s needs? What seems to be the big must-have winter items that you offer? Also, what suggestions do you have for those (like my dad) who HATE shoveling?
Stocking up early is also important for winters. You don’t want to have to go out in snow and ice conditions to pick up supplies. Make sure you have plenty of ice melt and traction material on hand. We have wide variety of effective products to prevent slip and falls that are safe for pets, walks, stairs and lawns.
In New England our winters are unpredictable. Some winters are cold and snowy and others mild and dry but we know that at any time we could get a storm. Shoveling deep snow and long driveways and walks is difficult and can be dangerous to those with medical issues. Having an ergonomic shovel that is easy on the back is one way to make the job easier.Gas power and electric show throwers make the job much faster and easier. The important thing to keep in mind is it is easier to move smaller amounts of snow so don’t wait until the storm passes over to get out and shovel.
You can use a snow pusher to move a couple inches of snow off of walks and driveways. If you are home put on some good boots, jacket and gloves and get out and enjoy some fresh air and push some snow around. You will be happy later when you don’t have to lift and throw 6 to 12 inches of snow! Then spread your ice melt on any remaining snow and ice. Same rule applies.
It is easier to melt a thin layer of snow and ice. Too many customers drive over the snow and pack it down instead of removing it. Packed snow becomes thick ice and creates dangerous conditions for driving and walking.
7. Lastly, can you give us a sneak peek about what you guys have planned for Keough’s Paint & Hardware’s 50th anniversary?
We are always looking at ways to grow our business with new products and services. If there is a need for our local community we will find a way to fill that need. We are also looking for ways to make shopping more convenient by improving efficiencies in the store and online at keoughs.com. For us to continue to be successful and celebrate decades of more anniversaries we will continue to stay connected with our neighbors in the community. If we stay focused on serving our customers the rest will take care of itself.