It’s all about the Benjamin

Although most of the Ben Franklin stores across the nation went bankrupt over the past fifteen years, the Ben Franklin store located on North Main Street is still going strong.

Floyd Craft, who opened the business in 1976 alongside his wife, Charlotte, has had to undergo many changes in order to carry on throughout the years.

“Thirty years ago when we opened Ben Franklin, we carried jewelry, clothes and other such things,” Craft said. “We no longer sell that stuff anymore; we had to make merchandise changes in order to survive.”

What they do sell now is many things that customers are not going to find anywhere else such as party decorations, crafts, frames, a candy counter, teaching supplies and many other unique items.

“We’ve worked very hard to provide merchandise and services that the community has either asked for or needed,” he said. “We have developed a lot of loyalty from customers.”

Loyalty is one of the reasons why the Ben Franklin in Bowling Green still exists. Ben Franklin,as a franchise, is no longer and Craft owns the location independently while still paying a small fee to a company to use the name. According to Craft, when the Ben Franklin franchise went under, numerous stores had to close.

“We thought about changing our name after Ben Franklin went down under about six or seven years ago,” Craft said. “I am glad I did not because I realized that our name means different things to different people and people stop in our store because of it.”

Craft admits that if he would have changed the name he probably would have lost a lot of business.

“We did know some people who changed their Ben Franklin name after the franchise went down because they didn’t want to pay the fee,” he said. “I think that the name change really ended up hurting their business.”

The decline of the Ben Franklin franchise started when Sam Walton, who owned fifteen Ben Franklin stores, proposed many changes to the business andthe management rejected his proposal. Walton went off to create Wal-Mart.

With the new Wal-Mart Supercenter opening over the summer, Ben Franklin’s business has been affected, but competition has never been a concern for Craft.

“Since opening, we have seen over nine big businesses come and go including K-Mart, Hills and Aims,” he said. “Wal-Mart is tough competition but we have to find the things that other places don’t do well or don’t do at all and we try to do those things.”

Craft also says that Ben Franklin is willing to match the competition.

“We will match any prices,” he said. “If you bring in an ad from another store, we will check it out and even if we lose money we will still match it.”

Sue Rider, a member of the Bowling Green community, stops by Ben Franklin frequently because she says it’s a fun place to shop.

“I like the helpful personnel,” Rider said. “If they don’t have a product, they will try and get it for you, and they have such a variety of items.”

She also enjoys some of the items that she knows she is not going to find elsewhere around the city.

“I really enjoy all of the rare crafts and the supply of crafts in general,” she said. “I also am in love with the candy counter.”

Tim Ferguson, a first time customer who lives in Fostoria, Ohio, took his mom to shop for some rare items and found himself buying some candle making supplies.

“This is my first time here and they seem to have a lot more craft supply then other places,” Ferguson said. “Overall they seem to have a better selection than other places; I definitely would like to come back.”

Longevity in the Bowling Green community is something that Craft is very happy with and does not plan on giving up anytime soon.

“We have lasted because of our merchandise mix and the way we treat our customers,” Craft said.