HARDWARE STORES

Things are getting Pinteresting for hardware

BY Steph Koyfman

Few people could have predicted that hardware store owners would one day be promoting their wares on a website best known for wedding mood boards, but dig a little deeper into the galaxy of visual inspiration, and you’ll find that Pinterest is not just an outlet for one’s aspirational whims, but a how-to manual for all kinds of practical goals. A search for “hardware stores” on Pinterest turns up how-to’s for hex nut jewelry, copper patinas and spray-paint upgrades for the home. Home improvement tips and DIY projects get passed around like trading cards, and photogenically appealing ones at that.

Springfield, Massachusetts-based Rocky’s Ace Hardware recently announced the launch of its Pinterest page back in September, a move that marketing and advertising director Geoffrey Webb says will get customers thinking creatively about their products.

“By expanding into social media in this aspect, we are able to inspire our customers with new ideas and uses for the products we carry,” he said in a statement delivered at the time of the launch.

For now, Webb says it’s too early to draw any conclusions, but Rocky’s is gaining followers every day.

Brothers Nick and Kirby Kuklenski have been operating a Pinterest page for their Colorado Springs Ace Hardware business for three years now, with Nick’s wife, Ashley, in charge of the company’s social media initiatives. If Rocky’s is anything like Colorado Springs, they’ll continue to see increases in online activity year over year, as well as a likely sales increase in DIY and niche categories.

Kuklenski said she’s also seen an added boost in pinning and likes after adding a Pinterest feed and button on the store website earlier this year, with the best responses following from posting Pinterest projects directly to Facebook and Twitter.

“I think Pinterest could potentially be a great fit for the Ace brand,” she said. “It allows us to virtually showcase products and niches that we carry in-store (i.e. grilling, canning, paint and gardening), provide resources and offer helpful tips and advice on the spot.”

For the folks at Marcus, Iowa-based Marcus Lumber Company, a Do it Best member, Pinterest has been an ongoing proposition for the last five years.

“In all reality, we didn’t know what to expect … so we feel the response has been good, and it’s pleasantly surprised us how consistent it has been,” said co-owner Grant Leavitt.

Marcus Lumber’s Pinterest page specializes in before-and-after shots of remodeling projects, as well as recipes featured during the store’s Ladies Night Out event and photos of barns scattered throughout rural America.

“Customers want to see what everything looks like before they buy it — siding, stone, trim or general floor plan ideas,” Leavitt said. “Pinterest is a tremendous resource for that.”

Though the Pinterest effort hasn’t led to any direct sales, in Leavitt’s opinion, it’s an integral part of building the company’s brand and increasing visibility among customers.

The biggest strength for Leavitt is the ability to piggy-back off of Pinterest’s high Google standing. Marcus Lumber devoted an entire Pinterest board to one of its product categories, which means customers searching for the product locally will find the Pinterest page at the top of their results — above even Marcus Lumber’s website.

“We would need to use a lot of analytics and SEO to pull that off by ourselves, but with the use of Pinterest, we can pull it off in a much more cost-effective way,” he said. “It can be powerful.”

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Throwback Thursday: Bernie Marcus retrospective

BY HBSDealer Staff

It was 2004, and Home Channel News, HBSDealer's predecessor, had issued a commemorative silver anniversary issue in honor of The Home Depot's 25th year in business.

In just a quarter century, the big-box retailer had helped lead the charge in a significant era of change for the industry. Co-founder Bernie Marcus had witnessed all of it.

"The biggest change is how proficient homeowners have now become," he said.

He went on to cite a speech he made in 1981, when he asked an audience of 400 people whether they were handy around the house: using a power saw, or fixing a running toilet, or changing the fuses in the house, for example. Seven raised their hand. In 1990, he asked the same question, and "only seven people did not raise their hand," he said.

"What happened was that we taught people how to do it themselves; there was no incentive before that," he continued. "It was so difficult to acquire the merchandise. They would have to go to a plumbing store, an electrical store, a paint store, a lumberyard. It was easier to call a carpenter or a plumber. Today, I think people automatically do everything in their house themselves."

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Throwback Thursday: On hurricanes past

BY HBSDealer Staff

In the August 27, 2007 edition of Home Channel News, the precursor of Hardware + Building Supply Dealer, readers were mulling over the transformation of a hardware store in the wake of a different hurricane.

Hurricane Ivan hit the Cayman Islands pretty hard in 2004, but one home center was there to provide much-needed lumber to rebuild the 85% of damaged buildings in the region. However, that didn't mean it wasn't in desperate need of help itself.

"In a time where everyone needed us the most, we had to repair ourselves and help others at the same time," said Krissy Kirkconnell, who was at the time the senior buyer for Kirk Home Centre.

Finally, in 2006, a new location was born, boasting 25% more floor space for a total of 40,000 sq. ft., in addition to an adjacent lumberyard and warehouse.

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