A lot has changed in Stratford over the past nine decades, but one thing hasn’t.
Since Stratford ITM opened its doors in 1933, the locally-owned building supplies and hardware business has been owned and operated by members of the Henry family.
Now owned by Kym and Mike Henry, the business was established by Mike’s grandfather, Victor, making Mike the third-generation owner.
While the date of the store’s first opening is unknown, the Henry family know that Victor would be thrilled to see the store not only still running, but having significantly grown over the years, while always maintaining its reputation for providing excellent service and quality goods.
To mark the milestone, Kym says the team held a month-long celebration throughout August, offering specials and plenty of giveaways.
“We gave away a bathroom vanity and had different specials each week, including a week of free local deliveries. We organised a colouring-in competition, a scavenger hunt where people had to find things in the shop to be in to win a wheelbarrow full of goodies and had a travel voucher up for grabs for sheds.”
She says giving back to the community was an excellent way to spread birthday cheer.
“It’s good to support the people that support our business.”
During the 90 years of business, Kym says there have been a lot of changes.
“We became part of the ITM cooperative 31 years ago when it first began. The business has moved to four different sites over the years. When we settled into our current building eight years ago, we changed our name from Standard Timber to Stratford ITM.”
She says being a family-owned business is something to be proud of.
“We are the third-generation owners which is special. Some customers are the grandchildren of people who shopped here 90 years ago. That’s pretty unique.”
Kym says one thing that hasn’t changed is the businesses’ drive to provide excellent customer service.
“We strive to give our customers a great shopping experience. We offer a free service to help people with their bathroom layouts. It’s a personalised service for our customers and have specialised in sheds for many years. We also have a paint shop and service a good majority of the builders in the area. It’s important to us that our customers are happy with the final product.”
There have been plenty of challenges over the 90 years, Kym says, with market downturns and the Covid-19 pandemic. She says the business had many customers buying products for DIY projects in the lead-up to the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
“It was quite cool to see that instead of people sitting at home doing nothing, they used that time to do their at-home projects.”
She says the time after the Covid-19 lockdowns was tough, with supply shortages and increased demand.
“We’re thankful to our staff who worked hard to meet the demands of our customers.”
A business is nothing without its staff, Kym says.
“Our staff are amazing. It is a team effort. We are lucky to have an amazing team.”