Higginbotham Brothers chooses local for next hardware store

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By Rachel Madison

Across the state of Texas, dozens of small towns are home to Comanche-based lumber and hardware store Higginbotham Brothers, and Liberty Hill is about to be added to that list.

Jace Mattinson, chief financial officer for Higginbotham Brothers and Liberty Hill resident, said the company opened its first store in 1881 and has been expanding ever since.

The stores, which provide everything from lumber and building materials to lawn and garden products, are staples in a number of small towns across Texas—and one in Oklahoma—and are still owned by descendants of the original Higginbotham family.

The Higginbothams moved to Dublin, Texas, from Water Valley, Miss., in 1880. The very first Higginbotham Brothers store, opened in 1881, was a general mercantile in Deleon. By the early 1900s the brothers, along with other relatives, had opened eight more general stores in Texas towns like Ballinger, Comanche, Dublin, Rising Star and Stephenville. The organization continued to grow and evolve into a hardware and lumber supplier, and in 1999, current CEO Rufus Duncan, Jr., a great-grandson of one of the original founders, purchased Higginbotham Brothers. Duncan also owns several Big Tin Barn hardware stores in Texas. The Liberty Hill location will be Higginbotham Brothers’ 42nd store.

“This store is being built from the ground up, basically to custom fit the Liberty Hill area,” Mattinson said. “Liberty Hill has been growing like wildfire and a lot of people have to go into town to either Lowes or Home Depot for hardware and lumber, which is really quite a way to go to get the products they want.”

The parking lot will have upwards of 50 parking spaces, and the retail store itself is 10,000 square feet and will have products for all areas of home improvement, like lighting, plumbing and electrical, Mattinson added.

“One thing that’s unique is that every one of our stores is different in its footprint,” Mattinson said. “We cater to local markets’ needs and desires, so in West Texas you’ll find different things in our stores than you’ll find in our East Texas stores. We’ll have all the typical hardware products as well as some harder-to-find hardware items, plus a small farm and ranch section, Eagle-brand power tools, and two large outdoor lumber sheds. There will be a pretty big lawn and garden department as well.”

Mattinson said opening a new store in Liberty Hill was a “natural fit” for the company.

“We hadn’t really gone to central Texas yet, even with the company being around for 140 years,” he said. “This is a new area for us. The closest stores to Liberty Hill are probably in Gatesville and Goldthwaite, so in terms of market opportunities and under-served communities, Liberty Hill was a good fit. Plus, we found a great piece of property.”

The Liberty Hill store, located next to Meridell Achievement Center on the north side of State Highway 29, is just under four acres. Construction on the project is nearing completion, Mattinson said, with just finishing touches left to do. Once complete, the hiring process will begin. The store will employ approximately 15 to 20 people.

“We’ll likely have a soft opening the last week of September or the first week of October, and then we’ll do a grand opening in mid-October,” Mattinson added. “We are just working out all the details now.”

Typically, when Higginbotham Brothers builds a new store, they flatten the land before erecting the building, but in Liberty Hill, they decided to try something different—they left a large oak tree right in the middle of the parking lot.

“We ended up leaving the tree there, somewhat to our dismay at the time, but now it provides a very unique view in the middle of the parking lot and it’s a really pretty tree,” Mattinson said. “It’s really a statement piece on the property, so we’re super happy with that decision now. That’ll definitely be one of the first things people notice when they pull into the parking lot.”

Mattinson said Higginbotham Brothers has a goal to continue to provide products the community needs with a hometown, family feel.

“Going through this pandemic we’ve figured out how essential a lot of businesses really are,” he said. “Our business is a very non-sexy business in a lot of ways, but it’s very essential, and being able to provide the products for the community and the people who need them in a timely manner is important. As we continue to grow and Liberty Hill continues to grow, we hope to be able to fuel that growth by providing the products to build the homes and barns and everything else people in the area are building.”

Higginbotham Brothers is located at 12500 W. SH 29. Hours for the store are scheduled to be Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store will be closed Sundays. For more information, visit www.higginbothams.com.

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