JANESVILLE—While showing off their brand-new Lloyd’s True Value hardware store soon to open off West Court Street, Janesville couple Christopher and Anita Lloyd voiced differing ideas of what ranks as the store’s coolest and best items.
For Christopher, a retired Janesville firefighter, it’s the big wall of DeWalt and Makita power tools, or the handmade, wooden American flag he has hung to set off the dark wood front wall.
Anita, a former local manufacturing employee and dyed-in-the-wool animal lover, favors the store’s full aisle of pet toys and bird feeders.
That, she said, is one touch she added to the new store.
“I don’t want this to be just the average hardware store,” Anita Lloyd said. “I also want to draw the women in. You’ve got to have your curb appeal, you’ve got to have your look, and you have to carry a variety of things people expect, but also some things they don’t expect.”
That’s where Christopher cuts in, his eyes twinkling.
“We wanted to get some of the Yankee Candle stuff, some of the ‘girly’ stuff,” he said.
Chris and Anita Lloyd are new to retail, but the couple says they’ve been trying to open a hardware store in Janesville since 2007.
Most recently, in 2017, the couple had made a bid on the former True Value franchise on Center Avenue on Janesville’s south side when that store was planning to shut down.
Two years later, they started pursuing the build out of this new True Value franchise on a West Court Street lot next door to the Daniels Foods supermarket.
What the couple likes to described as unique for Janesville’s west side.
For one, Lloyd’s True Value will be the first standalone hardware store to open on the West Court Street commercial strip, known as the Westgate Corridor, since the early 1980s.
The new shop’s physical curb appeal—a dark red, steel façade with a prairie-style carved stone front entryway—is something the couple said they carefully crafted to grab the eye of people driving by.
Overall, it’s the first new retail business to be built from the ground up on the west side since before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
Christopher Lloyd said that he saw small business financing deals for his project fall through a few times during the pandemic—an irony considering the number of businesses locally that have been able to cash in on federal COVID-19 relief loans.
The delays and hiccups might have been a blessing in disguise. The Lloyds said that True Value officials told him that had the store launched a year ago, it’s likely that suppliers would have been able to stock only about 65% of all inventory that the store aims to carry.
As of late November, Christopher Lloyd said the supply chain picture has brightened. Overall, he said True Value expects its supply chain to be able to deliver about 90% of the new store’s planned inventory.
Along with being the only hardware store within 2 miles of Janesville’s west and south business corridors, Lloyd thinks his new store might scratch the pesky—and growing—itch of consumer impatience.
“My kids are still mainly Amazon shoppers. But with that online buying, the days of you getting your goods within one or two days, it’s kind of gone. It’s not that way right now,” Christopher Lloyd said. “Now you’re waiting two, three weeks. So that’s driving people back to the (brick-and-mortar) stores some because they need what they need now, not a month from now.”
The term “variety store” might be outdated, but Anita said customers should expect to find items at Lloyd’s True Value that they might not see at other hardware stores, such as plants, décor and knickknacks.
Anita said she has dedicated a full store aisle to pet toys and bird feeders in part because residents on the south and east side said they had gotten sick of traveling across town to buy such items at big-box stores.
“On the west side and south side of town, there was a pharmacy that used to carry cute little knickknacks and stuff like that. I collected angels that they had, and they had the best selection of knickknacks, flower arrangements and things like that. For some reason, they went away from it. That was just so sad, it was just disappointing,” she said. “We’re going to bring that back over to this side of town.”