When Steve Glenn opened a True Value hardware store in the Coddington Avenue and West A Street shopping center over a decade ago, he aimed to serve both the small group of city dwellers in that area -- and the rural folks who live nearby.
"Hardware business is great business because it’s very personal. We are helping people, and it’s a very warm feeling to help people who have problems," Glenn said. "It’s a very good job to get to help people."
The store at 1550 S. Coddington Ave. sits in one corner of the Coddington Shopping Mall, next door to the Watering Hole's west location.
Glenn said the area today has grown. The clientele consists of blue-collar, working-class families.
"It's a rural area with a lot of hardworking people, and that's a good combination for a hardware store," Glenn said.
He said the shopping center provides just about everything a family living on the edge of Lincoln needs. The mix of tenants includes chains like Pizza Hut, Subway and Supercuts, banks and more local storefronts like Zhang's Chinese restaurant and Russ's Market.
The mall's growth, Glenn said, has coincided with a growing number of housing developments and families moving into the nearby neighborhoods.
"I think everyone around here is doing pretty well. If you add another hundred rooftops on single-family housing, you're adding at least another 300 to 400 people to the neighborhood," he said. "They eat pizza and need fertilizer for their yards, too."
Those same families also tend to occasional stop for dinner at the Watering Hole, which has become a bar where everyone knows your name, according to operational manager David Johnson.
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"This is definitely a 'Cheers' bar," Johnson said. "We've had regulars going back to before this place was even called the Watering Hole."
Of the three Watering Hole locations, Johnson said the west location is the smallest, but is the most family-oriented.
"When you go downtown you get a lot of college kids and business people around the lunch hour," Johnson said. "Our east location is our biggest, but that's because we get more parties and groups with 20 to 30 people at a time. Out here, everyone is very blue-collar. Everyone is a hard worker."
And naturally, there's a lot of overlap in customers between the different businesses.
"I think Russ's Market brings a lot of people out here. Normally, a hardware store has a 2- to 3-mile range, but out there we see a wider area, and I think the supermarket draws it in," Glenn said.
Johnson said he thinks it's impossible for hardworking shoppers to resist a cold beer at the end of the day. On top of domestic beers, the bar sells Empyrean's brews on tap, including its Father Donkey Amber Ale, a copper-colored beer with a hoppy taste exclusive to the Watering Hole.
"We sell a lot of beer. We always sell a lot of tallboys, and people love Empyrean out here," Johnson said.
A new Sonic location will join the shopping center lineup soon, adding to the offerings for area residents but adding more competition for retailers.
"That's just running a business. You have to compete with big boxes and the internet," Glenn said. "People are looking for that convenience, and when they want it they're looking for us."
And the folks out at Watering Hole aren't too worried, either.
"Our regulars are the key," he said. "I don't think anyone who's coming here for chicken wings is going to Sonic."
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