Jarrett and Malinda Milam are high school sweethearts turned business partners. In March 2014, Malinda’s dad approached them with an offer to take over a retail space he recently purchased that didn’t suit his needs. The Milams jumped at the opportunity and opened M Kay Supply, an 18,000-square-foot, one-of-a-kind hardware store in December 2014.
One-Stop Shop Superstore
The store is a truly unique one-stop shop, offering the underserved residents of Benton, MO a wide range of products: including farm supply, home and garden, hardware, clothing and shoes, hunting and fishing gear, automotive, pet care, alcohol, and gifts. If you need it, they have it. If there’s a chance they don’t, they’ll get it for you or they will find someone who can. This small-town approach to customer care resulted in nearly $3 million in annual sales, an astonishing feat for an independently owned business that’s been open for just two years.
A One-of-a-Kind Brand for a One-of-a-Kind Store
The Milams say it was a no-brainer to include STIHL in their store offerings. “There’s a long history of STIHL in our family. We all use STIHL, nothing else,” says Malinda. “We have a very, very old STIHL chainsaw that is still usable to this day. It’s part of our collection — a permanent piece on our tool shelf.”
They carry STIHL because they love the brand and there was a need in the community. “Our community bleeds orange. Everywhere you go, you see someone using STIHL. Those people must go somewhere to buy those products, yet the nearest STIHL Dealer was 11 miles away. We wanted to provide the service of selling the units, repairing the units and selling their accessories. STIHL is fun to sell. It comes down to a belief in the product.”
Passion for STIHL Battery-Powered Products
The STIHL battery line is an important component of M Kay’s offerings and they look forward to bringing in the newest consumer-focused products in Spring 2017, which they hope will double their STIHL sales. When selling the STIHL battery line, the Milams recommend that dealers and their employees try the products themselves — know the ins and outs of each product including how much work can be done on a single charge.
Jarrett and Malinda are excited about the new STIHL Lightning Battery System™ line of products as it provides more options to best suit their customers, especially homeowners. The Milams believe it’s also important to talk to the consumers and ask them questions like: What are they looking for? How long do they need to use it? What size is their property?
The new products are going to be a wonderful addition to their inventory according to the Milams. “We do very well with current units, but the new models will open up a door to untapped clientele that will contribute to not only our STIHL sales, but our bottom line as well. We’re now going to be able to offer ‘the perfect fit’ to those looking for something more affordable (customers with smaller budgets, new homeowners and single head of household families) and those with a small yard or task that doesn’t require a big unit,” says Malinda.
“Those who were leery of battery-powered products before may now be interested to try them out, especially with the integrated and bundled battery products — users get a product in one set and don’t have to purchase a separate battery and charger. If our consumers are currently using a big box store item, they’ll want to upgrade to a STIHL product with reputable quality and durability paired with comparable price point and features.”
The Milams also host events promoting battery-powered units. Their store hosted a catered lunch for the county clerks of Missouri. After lunch, they orchestrated a battery-powered product relay to show firsthand how much power the units generate.
What Lies Ahead
Though M Kay Supply has only been in business two years, their unique business model has served them and their community well and they feel STIHL is an important component of their success. After M Kay Supply has become even more established, the Milams would like to identify other areas in need of a store like theirs and expand with additional locations. They will continue to include STIHL as they grow future locations because of the product and the brand’s ability to drive customer traffic.