Buchanan Area Senior Center November Coffee Chat with Redbud Hardware New Owners
by Rebecka Hoyt, Editor & Photographer
On the first Wednesday of each month, the Buchanan Area Senior Center (BASC), holds a coffee chat with area businesses, city leaders, and people of interest for the community to attend. This 2nd morning of November 2022 was Joe Krueger, the new owner of Do It Best Redbud Hardware store.
July 1, 2022 Joe and Jen Krueger, husband and wife became the new owners of Do It Best Redbud Hardware store on the southwest corner of Redbud Trail and W. Front Streets in downtown Buchanan. They took over after the Dippos retired from having it for 20 years and are looking forward to traveling. Joe and Jen are actually the same age as Dave and Tracy Dippo at 47 & 42 when they took over the hardware store too! The Kruegers are planning to keep the store for another 20 years as well and not give up in the next few years. Read on to hear the back story on how the Kruegers made this decision.
Joe and Jen met in 2011, who live and are active in their church’s worship team all in Buchanan with four kids – two girls and two boys. Joe is from Chicago as his dad worked with the police department there and his mom was the owner of a pub/bar. They moved to Dowagiac, MI when he was six. “It was a culture shock, but it was needed,” Joe stated. He graduated from Dowagiac High School in 1993 and went to SMC for a vocal major and then was a performer on a cruise ship at the age of 21. He then went to a Chicago medical business; then back to Dowagiac where he bought the Murphy’s Flower Shop in 2001. When 2008 hit, he closed the shop. After Aunt Millie’s opened in NIles, he became Supervisor and Vice President for the last 13 years. Just before and during Covid-19, Joe and Jen opened up their in-home candy business with a certified kitchen. Joe had the idea to buy the hardware store. So, Joe works 80 hours and Jen works in the office.
Jen was born and raised in Galien, MI and graduated from Galien High School. She received a teaching degree from GVSU and taught in Galien, Berrien Springs and Buchanan. The kids Julie and Adam came and then she stayed home with them. They sent an email to Tracy Dippo in July 2021 about the hardware store and on July 1, 2022 they had “The hub in downtown Buchanan business where everyone comes to get their supplies. And Jen is throwing her touches of homey things in there as well,” stated Joe. Her candy will stay at home but is taking a break from it as they are quite busy now.
They get their stuff through the co-op of Do It Best in Fort Wayne, IN. It took them a while to figure out the funding, customer service, inventory and keep what everybody needs. They worked for Dave and Tracy for three months to see how things worked. “It’s in our blood – contractors, DIY’ers. Our customers love the store and don’t like Lowe’s, Menards or Home Depot. It’s a great back and forth conversation with the customers. I thought I knew everyone in town, turns out I don’t!” laughed Joe.
Redbud Hardware still has the FREE popcorn, and the dog Rosie, who Mr. Canfield brings into the store when he’s there. They had Pete, but he’s more of an outside dog. “The city and people have been so welcoming to us and the employees are great,” Joe said graciously. There have been requests of having puzzles in the store, so those are in. Also, he is not bringing guns in the store. He does not know guns well enough and wouldn’t do them justice, he has respect for those that do have them, and he doesn’t know hunting well enough. He has heard stories of people who got their first gun there when it was Gamble’s and the Sullivan Brothers. They are “going to start a small hand tools rental business in the future and also try fishing. Extremes in the hardware business is good for business: when it snows – snow removal items are sold more, when it’s hot – sprinklers are sold.”
There are 52,000 SKUS that rotate through the store and 70,000 SKUS available from Do It Best. He jokes that his 8 year old daughter will have the store in 12 years.
They get ½ of a semi order every week and he is amazed on how much he has to replenish each week when he does an order, that they are at a 75% fill rate and there are still production/supply issues on things like mothballs! Joe is very thankful for their customers he states, “The people are so appreciative and I wasn’t expecting that, but they can’t thank us enough when we help them find things compared to when they go somewhere else.”
Final words from Joe: “You can order from our website, call or ask us to order something, meet you at the back door, or even deliver it or whatever we can do to make it easier for you to get what you need.”
About Redbud Hardware: In July 2022, the Krueger family (Joe, Jen & 4 kids) purchased Redbud Hardware (a Do it Best store). Not only is it a family-owned store, but it is also family-operated. You’ll most often find Joe in the store doing whatever needs to be done (assisting customers, screen repair, mixing paint, finding the perfect bolt, checking out customers-the list goes on and on). Jen takes care of all things office-related, including finding new items to carry in the store (like seasonal decor and small gift items). And the kids…well, they are usually playing with the store dog, Rosie, or helping however we see best. Our inventory consists of a wide range of products in Lawn & Garden, Plumbing & Electric, Paint, Fasteners, Outdoor Living, and Tools. But we also stock old-fashioned glass bottled pops, wooden toys, specialty knives, Michigan-made items, books by local authors and a large selection of Melissa & Doug activities and toys for children.
- Typical Hours:
- Monday – Friday: 7am-7pm
- Saturday: 8am-5pm
- Sunday: 10am-2pm
About Buchanan Area Senior Center: Buchanan Area Senior Center provides a complete facility, a friendly and efficient staff, and active volunteers that enhance the quality of life of seniors in our community. We offer programs and services designed to promote physical, social, and mental well-being, including exercise, recreation, and crafts, as well as Senior Nutrition Services, food commodities, and a Senior Community Garden.