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Winslow Hardware to open paint storeThe outlet will be in new space on Hildebrand.

"Success has painted Mary Hall and Ken Schuricht of Winslow Hardware into a corner - too many customers in too little space.To address that pleasant dilemma, Hall is opening a second store on Hildebrand Lane this fall, to specialize in paint, relieving the most congested area of their present Winslow Way store.Paint accounts for 30 percent of the store's volume in the summer months, Hall said. You can't move in the paint area during the summertime - we have customers 15 people deep.The new store, to be called Winslow Paint Company, will go into one of the buildings now under construction on the west side of Hildebrand across from the Island Country Inn in front of the two-story Airbiquity headquarters. At 2,700 square feet, it will be roughly half the size of the Winslow Way store.This (new) building seems perfect, she said. It has parking, but it's detached, so it doesn't have a strip-mall feel.The parking is particularly important because Hall wants to appeal to building contractors as well as to do-it-yourself painters.Contractors aren't going to drive around the block - they need parking, she said. If we can save them an hour's time driving to Poulsbo by being on the island, we'll be desirable.Hall said the new store will carry two principal lines of paint. One will be Benjamin Moore, which she calls an upgrade over what the hardware store has been able to carry. The other will be a new line of artist-created paints called Devine Color.That line was rolled out in May, Hall said, and is a special line of designer and architect colors created by an artist in Oregon for the Pacific Northwest.A unique feature of the Devine Color line is an inexpensive sampler, Hall said.You can buy sample color packs for $2.50 and test it, Hall said. With some of the other lines, you have to spend eight or nine dollars for a small can of paint. The paint store will also carry some home furnishings. And Hall hopes it will provide the nucleus of a home-decor center in the area.When we signed the lease for our space, we asked the broker who is trying to lease the project to tell related businesses, Hall said. I think it could really help the area to have a number of related businesses together.Hall's partner in the paint store will be Joan Marsden, who sold her bookstore in Seattle's Wallingford district several years ago.She misses retail, she is moving here and wants to be part of a small community, Hall said.Family affairHall, an island native, married Schuricht while both were working in Seattle - she with a steamship company and he with a printing business.I asked Ken one time what would be his ideal job, and he said he'd like to own a little hardware store, Hall said. I thought we could do that - we have customer-service backgrounds, and Ken can fix almost anything.They looked at stores in Washington, Oregon and California, then walked into the Winslow Way store in 1992 and learned that it was for sale by the estate of Habb Hedrick. After two years of talks and waiting for the people who weren't really serious to drop out, they bought the store in 1994, becoming only its third owners.Because Hedrick had taken a laid-back approach to matters like inventory, the storage room still contained what hadn't sold for many years.Schuricht and Hall conducted a memorable sidewalk sale in the rear alleyway, selling things like decades-old greeting cards and a hedge trimmer from the 1940s.And what had originally been a negative in the negotiations - the building - became a huge positive.The estate insisted that we buy the building, not just the business, Hall said. We didn't want to do that, but they made it so easy for us. Thank God for that. With the rent we would have to pay now, we couldn't run a hardware store.Business has boomed under the couple's ownership, with sales doubling in the first five years, and sales per square foot among the best in the business.The downside of the success has been the time commitment. The store is our life, Hall said, although she finds time to be an active member of Grace Episcopal Church.The couple's next major project is going to be personal - building a new house on the Hawley Way lot where Hall's small house now sits.When the paint section moves out of the Winslow Way store, the area will be remodeled to create more customer-service and checkout space, Hall said.Hall will continue to be involved in the hardware store, particularly in the garden area. But the reverse will not be true. While Schuricht will lend support on all levels, he'll stay at the hardware store, presumably to keep the coffee on.We'll have coffee at the paint store too, Hall said. I don't think we have any choice. "

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