H&H Hardware in Middlefield, Ohio
Jon Hunter never expected to leave H&H Hardware, the family-owned business that’s been an integral part of his life since 1962, when his father, Don Hunter, started the store in Middlefield, Ohio.
“I knew probably every single person who came in the doors of the store,” Jon said. “Either it was someone I grew up with, or someone my boys grew up with, and it was like seeing family everyday.”
After working in the store as a boy, to bringing up his own four sons in the business – all of whom worked in the store while they were growing up – Jon considered H&H Hardware his livelihood and a solid part of his family heritage. As a past president of the Middlefield Chamber of Commerce, he fought to keep Wal-Mart out of his community.
Unable to raise additional loan money and faced with falling store value as a consequence of Wal-Mart moving in, Jon was forced to close the doors of H&H Hardware forever – after 43 years of business.
The new Wal-Mart Super Center opened two miles away -- soon after Jon Hunter closed his store.
NOTE: A newspaper article came out in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that inaccurately represented this story in the film. The paper issued a clarification: "The first paragraph of a story on Page A1 Friday could misinterprets as saying that a new documentary claims Middlefield's H&H Hardware closed after a Wal-Mart Supercenter opened in town. The movie does not address the timing of the hardware store's closing, as is stated in the story. H&H closed three months prior to Wal-Mart's opening. Filmmakers said the giant retailer's arrival represented an indirect cause that shut down H&H."
Wal-Mart has used the original article (without the clarification) to attack the film (along with 25 years of Robert Greenwald's bad film reviews). At the risk of giving away an important part of the film, here's Jon Hunter's side of the story:
"There are a few ways Wal-Mart can shut down family-owned businesses in a community, both direct and indirect. Wal-Mart's arrival represented an indirect factor in the closing of H&H Hardware.
"At the same time that Wal-Mart announced they were coming to Middlefield, I was counting on a new business plan and bank loan to continue to support my hardware store - the loans depended on the value of my business and the building. When I went to secure the loan, the appraiser devalued the building at a drastically lower price than I expected - this was directly related to Wal-Mart coming into town. The appraiser told me that banks knock the values of other stores down when Wal-Mart opens in town since "sooner or later there will be a bunch of empty buildings. I was turned down for the loan. So, Wal-Mart was a related factor to my business closing down."