‘Social’ is key at T & M Hardware

T & M Hardware uses Instagram to tell customers’ life stories, and to recruit – and it’s really effective.
T&M Hardware, Scott, Samantha, Tim
T & M Hardware owners Scott, Samantha and their dad Tim Post. Samantha created an Instagram video to connect with people - and recruit too.

There’s this “Key” video made by a hardware store manager and, well, it’s hardly about keys at all.

But it is all about the people who need them.

One hardware store is reaching customers on social media with messages that tell their life stories and tell of how hardware supports them through their daily trials and triumphs.

Samantha Post, marketing manager at family-owned T & M Hardware & Rental, based in Harmony, Pennsylvania, decided to make a video about how they help customers; how they help on a personal level.

The brief, thoughtfully-done video posted on Instagram, brought home the message of how a hardware store supports, in so many ways, the people it serves.

“The ‘Key’ video is simply a representation of how I view the type of work that we do. At the heart of what we do is help people – when they need us the most,” said Post.

Customers might come into their stores looking for help while dealing with a personal crisis. “Something at their home broke or is damaged and now they’re dealing with the frustration of trying to fix it as well as the financial strain of unexpected expenses,” she said.

The “Key” video really is not about keys at all – but it is all about people. Click on image to play the video.

In other scenarios, someone in the home is dealing with a diagnosis or long recovery that requires them to revamp their home to accommodate the situation; or a person is dealing with a relationship breakup.

“Now they have to do home improvement projects that they have no idea how to tackle,” said Post. “Someone had something stolen or broken into, so they’re concerned about their safety, and so on.”

The Key video on Instagram depicts people’s lives, and how they intertwine, at various times, with hardware, a completely ‘people-first’ place serving a customer’s basic, vital needs.

“We get to occasionally help celebrate people’s personal milestones with them like getting married, buying a home, starting or growing a family, or feeling empowered to enter the world of DIY.”

T & M is a family-owned business started by Tim and Mary Post, who purchased their first store in 1991, and has grown into six stores – five stores in Western Pennsylvania and one store in Eastern Ohio. Two of their four children have returned to the business with the intent to keep their parent’s legacy alive once their parents decide to retire.

The family focus is on taking care of the hardware needs of homeowners, maintenance personnel, other local businesses, and many of the independent contractors.

Over the years, they have expanded into equipment rental, sporting goods, pet, garden center, and home decor to fill holes left by the closure of other small businesses in their communities. 

T&M Hardware, reg customer Caitlin with Samantha
In the store, Caitlin, on left, a regular customer, visits with Samantha Post, who says telling their stories allows everyone a sense of connection.

Somewhere along the way, Post said, “retail got a bad reputation for not being a career option, so my goal was to start producing these types of videos to showcase what we really do, who our company is, and the impact that we have in our customer’s and community’s lives.”

The hardware manager is doing this, she said, to change the perception and “hopefully recruit millennials to want to come work for us in the process, since they are looking for meaningful work and to work for companies that make an impact in the world.”

Post said, “We also learned during the pandemic and our 30th anniversary scavenger hunt that people didn’t know much about us – even our long-time customers. Consumers are also looking to support companies that make a difference, so it’s really a win-win to help us recruit new talent as well as new customers.”

‘Key’ Connection

The message in the Key video – of putting people first – has really connected with customers coming into their hardware store.

“One person told me that it made them want to cry,” said Post, “because they were so touched by it. That’s a good indicator to me that it was successful in showcasing the heart of what we do.”

They use social media for hiring, she indicated, but the video has had several hundred views in just a short time and has gained 30 followers.

T&M Hardware Tim, Mary, Samantha, Scott
The owners of T & M Hardware, Tim and Mary Post, and their kids Samantha and Scott.

In a message to other hardware owners and managers, Post said, “with so many people looking to shop local and support small businesses, this is your opportunity to shine, and social media has finally given us the tools to create our own ‘mini commercials’ to tell the stories of what it’s like to work and shop at our stores.”

The biggest thing she has learned over the last two years, she said, is that “customers have no idea what hardware stores have, what they do, how they take care of their communities, and the amount of heart and soul that goes into doing it each day.”

Connection is a really powerful force, she said, “since we all want to be connected to others and to feel connected to something greater than ourselves.”

For her, telling their stories allows customers to connect with staff as well as all the people they serve.

Post said: “We get to help solve their problems or build their dreams by simply selling hardware, and, for me, that is the most rewarding and fulfilling part of the job that I wanted to highlight with this video.”

< Check out the Key video HERE. >