Center Store: Olsen’s Market, Ajo, Ariz.

Kat Martin
Former Senior Editor

Competition had created a real challenge for Olsen’s Market’s center store, so owner Bryanne Olsen’s husband encouraged her to add Ace Hardware to the product line. The couple had explored the idea more than 10 years earlier, but it wasn’t the right fit. Several years later, however, the 4,000-square-foot option for the 20,000-square-foot store was exactly what the location needed.

Olsen credits Ace with helping create the new floor plan for the store with the least amount of rearranging.

“Each year, Ace gets stronger and stronger sales for us,” she says. “It’s a good feeling to be in the checkout line and I see a toilet seat and a loaf of bread going through together.”

The hardware section takes up four aisles in the store, and products can be purchased from the store’s main checkout or from a cash register located in the section.

The store, which is located right off a busy interstate, serves a large camping community whose members stop in the town on their way to various locations in Arizona and beyond, so Olsen’s Market carries a variety of RV- and camping-related items that travelers might have trouble finding elsewhere, like the smaller propane canisters that are used in camping equipment. The store also stocks a variety of travel-size products.

With the decline in customers coming in for center store items like health and beauty, Olsen further reduced the selection.

“We’re down to two SKUs of toothpaste or soap,” she notes. “Just enough that if they need it, they can grab it.” Instead, she now stocks a variety of small electronics like coffee makers or slow cookers, also supplied by Ace.

In the winter, especially for holiday shopping, Olsen’s Market offers a larger variety of specialty and natural products like specialty olives or free-from flours.

To attract the large tourist shopping segment, Olsen uses social media to promote the store, so those travelers doing research ahead of time can find the store and know it will provide the items they need.

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