At Johnsons, the popcorn is always free
A Maple Valley, Wash., store builds customer relationships by the bag full.
The tradition of free popcorn for customers is alive and well in Maple Valley, Wash., where Johnsons Home and Garden emphasizes a customer-friendly shopping environment. There’s free coffee, too.
According to Abby Deskins, the store’s social media and marketing associate, it’s all part of a plan to give back and fit in. Free popcorn is just the beginning.
“We are community focused and always want to help out in any way we can,” said Deskins. “It’s important for us to give back to the community. We have held multiple donation drives at our store, been sponsors for local businesses and organizations, been involved in many community events, and have even provided popcorn to elementary schools.”
Free popcorn is an important symbol and a longstanding tradition at the (almost) 50-year-old store.
“In fact,” she says, “we are called the ‘popcorn store’ to many of our regulars. We clean our popcorn machine every night and any of the remaining popcorn goes home to one of our employees who then feeds it to her chickens. No popcorn goes to waste.”
The store, affiliated with the Do it Best co-op, adds to its friendly shopping environment with a fish pond in the greenhouse, where kids can sometimes feed the fish. (“Kids absolutely love it,” she says.) For adults, cooking and grilling classes tackle a variety of recipes.
Community concern extends to the environment, she says. “We have reusable shopping bags to purchase and a recycling program all year round,” Deskins said. “We are a valuable resource for people to recycle their household batteries, CFL bulbs, and even drop off your old American flag to be retired by a local scout unit.”
According to Deskins’ analysis, the bonds with the community are strong. Consider this: high school students on prom night are reported to have visited the store for some of the free popcorn.
“I believe the best thing about our store is that we are loved by all ages,” she said.
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A recent article in HBSDealer reported on regulations that forced a California dealer to abandon his popcorn program. Read the article here. Does your store offer free popcorn? Write us at [email protected]
Proud independents in Maine and Massachusetts
State by state, meet the 2018 class of Stihl Hardware All Stars.
It takes a little more to be a Stihl Hardware All Star.
Each year, HBSDealer solicits nominations from readers and the industry for Hardware All Stars.
And each year, we’re rewarded with a fresh class of high-performing, community-minded, service-oriented businesses worthy of the honor.
During the course of our research, we’ve met dealers who take risks, inspire staff and lift communities — or have what we call the All Star spirit.
Congratulations to all of the 2018 Stihl Hardware All Star honorees. Here’s two stars worth gazing at:
This all-around retail All Star in Patton, Maine, operates in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin. Kayaks, hardware, greenhouses and a drive-through lumberyard are just part of the attraction. “We’ve been fortunate to withstand the online competition,” said Nate Richardson, whose great grandfather founded the business. “And the reason is our ability to change, adapt and differentiate ourselves.” Case in point: a new, 2,000-sq.-ft. hydroponics department that opened as the state voted to decriminalize marijuana use.
When this All Star received the 2018 Small Business of the Year Award, it did what comes natural — it gave back to the community. The $5,000 cash award for winning the Independent Small Business of the Year award (or Indie Award) was pledged to a park revitalization project in Pittsfield, the company’s main branch. The award was a national competition of all kinds of small businesses. “Our community supports us, and we support them,” co-owner Bart Raser said. “It’s nice to know we live in a community that appreciates the value and impact of independent small businesses.”
Waving the flag for the community
K&B True Value planted more than 2,200 flags during the Fourth of July holiday.
One way for a hardware store to embrace its community while celebrating Independence Day is to offer flags. An even better way: give away 2,200 flags.
That was the plan, which was successfully executed, by the team at K&B True Value of Annapolis, Md., this past Fourth of July. And, according to Jared Littmann, owner of K&B True Value, the move generated heart-warming responses from all kinds of people throughout the community.
One customer wrote: “This most iconic symbol of American freedom reminds us who we are as Americans, no matter what injustices or violence are perpetrated against individuals and communities, our democracy will prevail.”
Independence Day wasn’t the only event that called for unity in Annapolis the week of the flag distribution.
“We had been planning on doing this for a few months, but as it turned out, it was less than one week after the shooting at our local newspaper’s offices, killing five journalists,” Littmann wrote in an e-mail to HBSDealer. “The town has been shaken up by it, along with the general political turmoil (this is an election year in Maryland), so it seems that the flag distribution was especially appreciated this year.”
Flags were planted in various neighborhoods next to mailboxes by groups of volunteers, who received a cash incentive from the store. the volunteers included Cub Scouts (packs 422 and 153), high school students raising money for their upcoming prom, and members of the Peggy Stewart Tea Party Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
At the same time, K&B True Value collected 127 flags that were faded and ready to be retired. These flags were turned over to the Cub Scouts, who will conduct a ceremony for proper retirement and disposal.
The flag promotion was tied back to a deal at the store. A small sticker on each flag identified K&B True Value and promised 50% off deals.