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Barton's Home Improvement makes retail store debut

A 100-store specialty retailer with a 134-year heritage is rolling out a new retail banner.

Jonesboro, Ark.-based E.C. Barton & Company has opened Barton’s Home Improvement, which will slowly replace Barton’s Bargain Outlet and Surplus Warehouse brands. The new brand was developed following more than a year research.

“The pilot of the new brand is based on strengthening who we already are today,” said Kevin Pierce, chief operating officer for E.C. Barton & Company. “Our objective is to make it clear to our customers that we specialize in flooring, cabinetry, plumbing and millwork; offering high-quality products at the guaranteed lowest price. The changes we are making are based on improving the experience for our customers, while ensuring they know who we are and what we offer.”

The Jonesboro, Ark.-based company plans to take a slow but steady approach to the transition. Seven stores have already been converted to the Bartons’ Home Improvement brand, including a new store in Conway Ark., that opened in July. In late 2019, another new Barton’s Home Improvement will open in Benton, Ark. The company described the newly branded stores as pilots. “Each pilot store will reflect varying elements in order to test the best path forward,” the company said.

“As we go through this process, it’s important to us that we are doing the right thing for both our customers and our employee-partners,” said Pierce. “Testing these changes through the pilot gives us the opportunity to ensure that it works.”

E.C. Barton & Co. also operates Barton’s Lumber, with 11 locations in Arkansas and Missouri. Barton’s Lumber will continue to operate under its current brand, the company said.

The company said findings from its research indicated that consumers are confused about what the Bargain Outlet and Surplus Warehouse brands offer. This finding is the foundation for change that will align the brands within the E.C. Barton family and better reflect the product offering of the stores through a well-informed pilot program in key new and existing markets. The company also reported that additional research indicated an overwhelming response, among consumers, professionals and employees, in favor of the Barton’s Home Improvement brand.

Barton’s Home Improvement stores will feature a new store format with 20 or more inspirational room scenes. Other features include expanded design centers and additional flooring product offerings through a special-order program.

“Research shows that our customers are extremely savvy,” Pierce stated. “They research products, compare prices, and many are up to the challenge of a DIY project. We are well-positioned to serve these customers and the new brand will allow us to better communicate our offerings.”

According to the company’s rebranding research, 73% of consumers are looking for the store that offers the best value in home improvement. Also, 50% of consumers expect expert advice and service in a home improvement store.

Pierce added, “There is a reason we have been around for 134 years and continue to grow – that is almost unheard of in the retail environment. We have a history of evolving with the needs of our customers. The changes we are going through today allow us to embrace a new, exciting future while maintaining our rich heritage. We plan to be around for another 134 years.”

Founded in 1885, the company is headquartered in Jonesboro, Ark., and operates Barton’s Lumber, Grossman’s Bargain Outlet, Barton’s Surplus Warehouse, Barton’s Home Improvement and E.C.B. Brokerage in 17 states from upstate New York to south Texas. E.C. Barton & Co. is 100% employee-owned with more than 700 partners who operate more than 100 stores.
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