Saturday, February 24th, 2018

S Shopper Stories


The Store for Stores serves businesses and homeonwers

by Rob Lauer

Owner Natalie East and Logan East

Owner Natalie East and Logan East

It’s easy for a store with a name like The Store For Stores to keep a low profile.

For years, the majority of people have driven past the store’s Tidewater Drive location thinking they needed to have a business license to shop there. Most owners of small retail stores learn about this one-of-a-kind store by doing a Google search for “store supplies or displays.”  However, when bold and highly curious homeowners stop in and ask to take a peak, they are delighted to learn that the store is open to the public.

More and more, non-business owners are coming in to buy the materials they need to organize their garages, closets and craft rooms. Discovering that this unique store sells the very same hooks and brackets found at big box retailers at a fraction of the cost, they are quick to tell their family, friends and neighbors about it.

“It’s taken just over five years for the business to reach this level of success,” Natalie East, the store’s owner says. “When new people come into our store, they come back again and again—and usually they bring or send friends and family members.”

It doesn’t take very long for the store’s visitors to realize how much cheaper it is to buy items at wholesale prices locally, than to buy them from a big box retailer or to order online.

Natalie remembers one customer from the Outer Banks who, after researching prices online, came in with a list of the items she wanted.

“She insisted that everything had to be brand new,” Natalie recalls. “It took a lot of persuading before she would even look at our used inventory, but when she did, she was amazed by the high quality. We managed to save her almost a thousand dollars that she had planned to spend. Now that’s what I find most satisfying about what we do!”

At first glance, prices online look a little cheaper, but when the cost of  shipping is factored in, one starts to realize that ordering online is like running into a convenience store: one pays more for items, and frequently discovers that the quality is lower than what was expected. As a case in point, a  packaged assortment of pegboard hooks sold  for $3 by one large hardware store, is available a la carte for less than $1 at The Store For Stores.

“The feedback we’ve received
from new customers has been
that they had no idea how extensive
and fascinating our store is
until they walked through our doors.”

—Natalie East

Besides offering thousands of high quality items at extremely low prices, Natalie believes that providing exceptional service to every customer has been the key factor in The Store for Stores’ success. Even a casual online search for customer reactions will bring up well over one hundred five-star reviews. The long list of glowing comments that one finds posted on the store’s Facebook page are peppered with superlatives such as “amazing,” “fabulous,” “excellent,” and “a hidden gem!”

“These guys have been lifesavers multiple times,” one customer from Portsmouth posts. “Being able to buy quality store fixtures without having to pay for shipping or waiting forever is a pretty big deal. Just being able to walk in, tell them what you need and pick their brains for a solution is pretty valuable.”

“You don’t have to be a business owner,” another customer from Virginia Beach raves. “Just take a look. They have some great items and great deals...Seeing is believing.”

“For years, we have tried to explain to people who hadn’t been to our store, what we offer,” Natalie says. “The feedback we’ve received from new customers has been that they had no idea how extensive and fascinating our store is until they walked through our doors. Our associates frequently hear customers  call it  ‘a candy store for retailers’ or  ‘the best kept secret from homeowners.’  We take great pride in having a most unusual store—in fact, the only one of its kind in Virginia. That’s why we’re now seeing  more than 100 new customers in an average week.”

In light of the recent surge in business, the Store For Stores recently implemented a new POS system to keep the operation running smoothly. “We are automating many of our processes, so we can spend more time focused on helping our customers,” Natalie reports.

The store is also about to launch a new website that will make it easier for customers to shop 24/7. Local customers will be able to place orders online, and swing by to pick up their purchases the next business day. “It doesn’t get any easier than that,” Natalie says.

If someone is working on a home project, or has a store that needs new displays, Natalie encourages them to bring in their  ideas and floor plans and share them with The Store For Stores’ associates. “We love to help,” Natalie insists, “and we’ll  provide advice free of charge. We know all the options available, so we can take the guesswork and stress out of the task at hand. Very  quickly customers will see how much money and time we can help them save.”

If The Store for Store’s normal operating hours don’t work with a customer’s schedule, Natalie is quick to point out that with a little advance notice, she and her staff are happy to stay late, or come in on a Saturday. 

“We are very flexible because, first and foremost, we are here to take care of our customers,” she explains. “They are the reason we have been so successful. Despite our growth, I want to keep a small business approach that focuses on helping people.”

The Store for Stores

700 Tidewater Drive
Norfolk, VA 23504