Regional outlet in Marion could be ready in a year

Brad Seacat expects his family’s new 10,000 square feet regional hardware and lumber outlet store to be completed in Marion’s light-industrial park by Oct. 1, 2001.

The store will include an additional 2,500 square feet of “exterior retail,” roof over concrete pad intended for “a really nice” outdoor lawn and garden department that probably will temporarily house lumber until an additional T-shed building can be completed, he said.

Seacat estimated the expansion will add between $500,000 and $600,000 to the value of Seacat Hardware, Inc., also known as Marion True Value Hardware, which operates now at 301 E. Main.

The new store will be on six lots purchased from the city of Marion for $15,000 on the west end of the industrial park opposite Pizza Hut.

Seacat and his wife, Anita, have begun their third year as owners of the hardware business, and they are taking in a new partner on the expansion, Brad’s brother, Robert “Bobby” Seacat.

Seacat said he really doesn’t have a starting date for the metal building to be built by Flaming Metal Systems, Inc., “but we’re on Mel Flaming’s list, and we’ll be ready next year.

Besides lumber, a major consideration in the expansion is the addition of a “Just Ask Rentals Dept.” to the store, Seacat said.

“We really don’t have anything like that over here.”

The Seacats already have successfully experimented with adding U-Haul rentals since that was given up by another business in town.

He said, “We primarily wanted to go into the lumber business with the hardware, and there was no place left to have the room to do that downtown.

“We looked at enlarging the hardware store where it’s at, and staying out of lumber, but it cost close enough to the same as the new store to go ahead.

“We want to add a little more to the hardware line too,” he said. “We’ll stay True Value. There isn’t a day that we don’t have people in here wanting something we don’t have on hand that we could get. We’ve just flat run out of room. The new building will more than double our size here.

“We’ve also hit a level here where business is leveling off, we can’t do more here, and there’s always a danger if the only direction you can go is down.

“We want to become more regionalized, too. We can service the town better, and attract more trade from throughout the region out there.

“It’s in our mind that when they redo Highway 150 there will be a significant increase in traffic through the area along US-56, and that will make that a pretty prime spot.

“We started stocking some services this year to attract a little of the lake traffic in. We sold boats and supplied fishing equipment, and that goes real good.

“The lake people who are weekenders are always coming in wanting something like a boat anchor or a ski rope, and we never know where to send them, sometimes up to HRK maybe, but we want to do something more for them, too.

“At the same time we have to try not to spread ourselves too thin. We want to primarily be a good basic lumber and hardware store because that’s the root of the whole thing. We’ll be that, but we’ll also be what’s known in the business as a regional retail outlet.”

Seacat said the downtown building, which his family leases, has attracted attention as possible housing for government offices.

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