By Ammie Bryant, Editor Photos by Jefferson Bryant, Sales Director
Shop Local. Shop Small. These are the catchphrases of the movement to support local businesses by keeping your spending power close to home at locally owned, small businesses. When you keep your dollars at home where they go to support the local economy, they also support the individuals and families striving for their version of the American Dream. As a small, locally owned business, it’s a movement that we at Stillwater Living Magazine enthusiastically endorse.
Here in Stillwater, we are lucky to have many small, but mighty, businesses that have persevered and successfully competed with the national chains. Kinnunen is one of those local businesses that has not only survived but flourished for twenty-five years as Stillwater’s premier rental store plus a whole lot more.
Our readers might ask: “Wait, isn’t that where you rent construction equipment?” Absolutely! But there is a lot more to Kinnunen than many residents might realize. Not only does Kinnunen provide every type of rental equipment a contractor or homeowner might need to tackle a big job, they also have a 12,000 square foot retail space with a product line of over 70,000 items including: power tools, lawn and garden supplies, generators, tractor supplies, outdoor grilling, nuts, bolts, lightbulbs, and so much more.
In addition to providing a great selection and competitive prices, they pride themselves on their customer service. Because of their confidence in the quality of their inventory, they maintain a shop where they will service and repair everything they sell. Furthermore, the staff at Kinnunen knows that the customer has a choice about where they spend their money, so they are determined to make sure each customer who comes through their doors knows how much they are appreciated.
Over the past twenty-five years, Kinnunen has grown to fill the void left behind by the local hardware stores of the past.
Founded in 1991 by Ray Kinnunen, the business began primarily as a concrete contractor supply shop. Mr. Kinnunen’s background was as a concrete contractor. He saw that Stillwater didn’t have a business that catered to the needs of contractors, so he opened a small 4,000 square foot store with four employees (including himself). Kinnunen was passionate about serving others and believed that if you hired good people the business would flourish. Today, they employ sixty people.
In 1996, Greg Hughes joined the team at Kinnunen. Hughes had graduated from OSU in 1991 and returned to Stillwater in 1994 to make a home and raise his family. He became acquainted with Mr. Kinnunen and his business as a sales representative for Hilti, an industrial tool manufacturer. This was around the time that Kinnunen began offering retail items for sale. When Hughes came on board in ‘96, he worked to broaden the retail base of the business, providing more depth of products and increasing the rental fleet. Hughes took over the business in 2013, when Ray Kinnunen retired.
During the early years, Kinnunen primarily served the needs of contractors and today, they maintain an excellent reputation with this consumer base. “Contractors often ask us, ‘do you have a store like this in Oklahoma City or Tulsa?’” said Hughes. “They like the one-stop-shop where they can find everything they need and good service. They can’t find something like that in those markets, where they have to visit 4 or 5 stores to get what they can here. The only thing we don’t have that they might need is lumber.”
For the first twenty years, Kinnunen’s Monday-Friday crowd was mostly contractors and Saturdays were for the homeowner. Over the last five years, that has begun to change with the growth of the retail side of the business. Now, the Kinnunen retail store features everything a customer could want from a hardware store. They even sell Christmas lights.
Kinnunen prides themselves on the quality and depth of their product lines. Known for their power tools, they have Makita, DeWalt, Milwaukee, Bosch, and more. Kinnunen features the largest selection of power tools in town–and they have some amazingly competitive deals. Kinnunen is also a YETI authorized dealer. YETI is a top of the line brand featuring coolers and outdoor gear; well-known for their virtually indestructible drinkware, YETI ramblers can keep your beverages hot or cold for hours and hours on end. Kinnunen also carries Traeger grills and accessories.
In Kinnunen’s lawn care center they carry seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, mulch, and of course lawn mowers and equipment from well respected brands like Stihl, Scag, Toro, and Walker. They are also a dealer for E-Z-Go Golf Carts and Bad Boy Off Road ATVs and Side-By-Sides. These are but a drop in the bucket of what Kinnunen provides. Kinnunen really does have so much more.
Greg Hughes explains, “We’ve tried to be everything to everybody,” which is what a good hometown hardware store does.
Hughes is proud of the business that Kinnunen has grown into and plans to continue that growth into the future. Plans are currently in the works to remodel and expand the lawn care center which is located across Sixth Avenue in the old bread store and Midas locations. The old Midas building will be torn down and a new warehouse will be built behind the old bread store location where Kinnunen currently sells golf carts and ATVs. The Midas location will then be converted into a show-lot for all of the Lawn mowers, golf carts, and ATVs while the old bread store building will be remodeled into a lawn care showroom and retail center. When finished next year, the new facility will total 10,000 square feet to service all your lawn care needs.
Kinnunen’s culture of service, quality, and competition expands beyond the customer experience into the community. Over the years, Kinnunen has donated thousands of dollars worth of products and supplies, as well as the use of construction equipment, rent-free, to Habitat for Humanity and other non-profits. By donating products, supplies, and equipment to non-profits, Kinnunen has allowed those organizations to use cash donations to further their missions instead of pouring those funds into the literal nuts and bolts of a project.
If you haven’t been to Kinnunen recently, we recommend you check out what they have to offer for all your hardware needs. With the holidays coming up, take the opportunity to shop for gifts for your favorite tool-junky. If you need some guidance, the sales staff at Kinnunen will be happy to help you find just what you’re looking for. This is a local business we think area residents will be happy to support by shopping local. In fact, we know your pocketbook will be glad you did.