WHEELING- A daunting challenge presents itself to local entrepreneurs in the Ohio Valley on a daily basis as they must adapt to compete with big-box retail stores in a constantly changing economy.
Jim Simpson, sales manager for Duvall Television and Appliance of Wheeling, said the more than 60-year-old business owes its survival and continued success to a mixture of personal and professional business methods.
"A lot of folks like having access to us," Simpson said, referring to the personalized service given to customers at the National Road store. "We advertise, but a lot of our advertising is word of mouth. It's nice when customers tell us their friends told them to try us. There's a trust built up between good customers."
The business community also provides Duvall with support, Simpson said.
"We're part of a buying group that gives us buying power to compete against big box stores because of price matching," Simpson said. "We're small, but we're not more expensive. We also have some accounts with local organizations. Duvall provides commercial music to some local businesses."
Offering a wide variety of electronics from washers and dryers to large, flatscreen televisions, Simpson said Duvall's diversity gives the store extra strength.
Jeff Nau, third generation owner/operator of Lou W. Nau Inc. in Woodsdale, said the 84-year-old business stands strong because it is staffed by experts. Offering kitchen and bathroom remodeling along with heating, cooling and plumbing contracting, a full store of hardware and interior supplies and more, Nau said the family legacy is "loaded" with goods and services for residents of the Ohio Valley.
"We try to pay attention to the details," Nau said. "When they (customers) come in here, we have people who know what they are doing, who can tell them what to do. We'll wait on people; we'll jump in and help."
Even though they offer a wide array of goods and services, Nau said the store keeps its customers' schedules in mind and keeps the process simple.
"You're in and out of here pretty quick," Nau said.
Following in the footsteps of this grandfather and father, Nau said his own son and daughter will hopefully carry on the tradition and keep the Nau legacy alive.
"I grew up doing this," Nau said. "We're looking to be around here for a good long time."