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Paint store covers Oak Harbor

Sherwin-Williams has come closer to fulfilling its motto of “cover the earth” by opening a paint store in Oak Harbor.

The store, located in the shopping plaza that includes Subway at Whidbey Avenue and Highway 20, opened Monday under the management of Scott Cleveland with help from Seth Breckenridge, assistant manager.

Cleveland said he didn’t hesitate to open a store in Oak Harbor despite the recent arrival of hardware giant Home Depot, which offers stiff competition to all smaller home-related businesses.

“The difference is quality of service and product knowledge,” Cleveland said, expressing optimism that he can compete against larger competitors.

Cleveland opened the company’s Mount Vernon store five years ago, so he knows how to survive in a competitive environment.

Housed in the space that was once home to the Dollar Store, Sherman-Williams offers everything one needs for painting or wallpapering a house.

A quick perusal of the shelves shows a wide assortment of Sherwin-Williams paints, brushes, spray paint equipment, rollers, goggles, respirators, tape, ladders, and everything else needed to do the job safely and efficiently.

Andrea Krauss, a part-time employee, said her husband is in the Navy and she was happy to find a job in Oak Harbor after three months of trying. She says she does “a little bit of everything,” from helping customers in the store to making deliveries to contractors.

Assistant manager Breckenridge describes Sherwin-Williams as “the largest paint company in the U.S.” The 135-year-old company was listed on Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 top companies to work for in 2005, according to its Web site.

While walk-in customers are welcome, the bulk of the Oak Harbor store’s business will come from contractors, Cleveland said. He said he spends a lot of his time as a sales rep out in the field, “ramping up some business.” His staff’s knowledge of what product to use in what situation is seen by Cleveland as a key to success.

“We don’t just say ‘here’s your gallon of paint, see ya, bye’,” he said. Right now, products that can tolerate a lot of moisture are popular, understandably enough.

Sherwin-Williams sells its products only in its own stores, unlike other paint manufacturers who sell through various retail outlets. “We’ve got products to fit all needs,” Cleveland said. “Very competitively priced products.”

The store boasts a large collection of wallpaper books and machines that can quickly match any paint sample and order up a batch from the tinting machine. Bring in a paint sample the size of a penny or larger and a match can be quickly made.

After a month of creating and stocking the new Sherman-Williams store, Cleveland is happy he made the move. “Oak Harbor is a good fit for me,” he said.

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