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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