Hardware stores can be very intimidating places. Amongst all the stacks of plywood, rows of power tools, packets of nails, lightbulbs, and various concoctions of liquids, oils, varnishes, and waxes, there’s probably always an overwhelmed non-DIY person standing in the middle of your store’s aisles. A hardware store event could calm this fear.
Most of us can’t escape the need for DIY. Things in our home break, need to be repainted, repaired and replaced – and that’s where your hardware store comes in.
Events are a fantastic way to break down ‘scary’ DIY activities to make them accessible and fun. They can inspire the most nervous DIY novice to dip their toe and try something new, allow you to engage with your local community and bring neighbors together.
For many retailers, the thoughts of event planning can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be, with good preparation and some creativity.
Let’s get into the nuts and bolts of running a hardware store event.
Brainstorm – there’s a hardware store event for everyone
First, you need to brainstorm some ideas. Big-boxes like Home Depot know that there’s something in hardware store events as it has a varied event calendar for different audiences. While these stores have huge budgets and large amounts of staff on hand, every local hardware store has the capability to achieve similar results.
A good place to start is to think about the people who walk through your door every day and maybe more importantly: the people who don’t. Perhaps you want to reach out to people who are new to your area, for example. Know who you want to reach and the angle you’re going to take.
Below we’ve listed some topline ideas for hardware store events you could run.
Product demonstrations are the perfect way to showcase your in-store stock in an engaging way – which means they’re a massive help for your retail marketing. They can help your customers place your products in their own world.
Imagine your hardware store stocks premium Weber barbeques. In this example, it’s late spring so garden party weather is on the horizon. You want to plant the garden party seed in your community’s head. An in-store cooking demo with Weber barbeques and accessories could be the perfect way to encourage sales, as well as filling your customers’ stomachs with great food. You could market this demo as part of a summer party if you wanted to go on a larger scale.
Take a look at Ruxley Manor Garden Center’s event below. You could even partner with a local restaurant or cafe to bring the demo to life and cross-promote each other.
Family-friendly hardware store event ideas for your store
Events for children are a great way to bring young families into your store. Many parents and guardians are always on the lookout for fun ways to entertain and educate their kids in their free time.
Hardware stores are a hub of creative possibilities. From gardening to woodwork, there are a number of topics for tiny DIYers.
Seasonal events are a great place to start. For example, for Mother’s Day, it’s a nice time to show children how to make something special.
If your store specializes in carpentry, you could get a staff member to make up and paint a handful of simple serving trays from in-store materials. They could be used as a breakfast-in-bed serving tray on her special day. Here is a fantastic tutorial from Bunnings Warehouse.
You could premake the trays or buy them uncoated for the workshop.
If your hardware store stocks gardening supplies, you could run a workshop where you plant bedding plants in a terracotta plant pot. It’s a fun activity that doubles as a Mother’s Day gift.
Be sure to be mindful of age ranges and learning abilities. An activity that involves measuring and cutting is probably not suitable for kindergarteners. Make sure to have an alternative activity (like a coloring activity sheet) or allow them to help with an appropriate aspect of the activity so everyone can join in. Communicate clearly what age group the intended workshop is for when you’re promoting your in-store event.
It’s also key to make sure that parents are supervising their kids as you’re there to host an event, not babysit! There’s plenty of time for parents to browse your stock before and after the event. Perhaps you could offer attendees a discount to encourage them to browse and buy.
DIY that protects our planet
Make Greta Thunberg proud and hold workshops that teach your community how to protect our planet. Our actions within our homes have a huge bearing on the environment – every household can do better when it comes to reducing, reusing and recycling.
Lots of hardware stores stock eco ranges, waste disposal units, gardening ranges and construction materials for undertaking eco DIY projects – which is a great opportunity to educate your customers.
From teaching participants how to make a solitary bee house to water conservation in their households like Home Depot, environmental events are hugely topical and important for the foreseeable future.
Although there have been great changes in recent years, it’s probably fair to say that hardware stores are still placed in the masculine realm.
Industries like construction and carpentry are male-dominated, so it’s easy to see why this trend has followed into hardware stores. Your store could offer the best customer service in the world, but think about whether it could be more accommodating to female customers.
As pointed out by hardware store worker, Amanda Plunkett, studies have shown that women are the key decision-makers when it comes to home purchases. For this reason, Beck Paint & Hardware host female-only hardware events. This female-only event trend exists in other male-dominated industries from STEM to comedy.
The ‘Annual DIY Ladies’ Night at Logan Hardware offers attendees a “hands-on introduction to home improvement” as well as discounts, free local food and drink, plus the opportunity to talk to vendors. They’ve partnered with lots of local businesses to make this a true community event.
Of course, there are many hardware store events you could host, so get thinking! While your hardware store is probably cumulative of things that you know will sell, you have plenty of opportunities to share your niche expertise too, whether that be furniture restoration or creating garden patios.
It’s infectious when someone is truly passionate about a subject so why not share that knowledge with your local community?
How to plan an event
Who is owning the event?
First things first, decide who is going to host your hardware store event. Perhaps you want to share your expertise or interests with your customers, or maybe you think it’s better to outsource it to someone with more insider knowledge, other businesses/vendors or staff members.
Timing is everything…
You know your schedule and capacity the best. When it comes to picking a time for your event, have a clear picture in mind of your attendee and the time that will work best for them. Events often mean closing late or juggling an open store simultaneously. There is no hard rule here. Each event is different.
For example, weekends and holidays are probably the best time for a kid-focused event. They aren’t in school and their parents are finished work.
Weekday evenings are a good bet too when you know attendees are finished work. Your attendees are generally not rushing to go anywhere if they’ve booked time in their calendar for you. Maybe offer some refreshments and snacks so they’re not running home to make dinner.
Decide on numbers
Pick how many people you want to come to your event and stick to it. If you’re very new to events, it’s best to keep it small so you can test the waters. You can build up your confidence from there. A caveat: don’t overbook your event as the last thing you want is an overly-crowded venue.
To charge or not?
This is completely your call. Some events require materials and instructional costs, which you may want to factor in.
However, if you’re looking to promote your store in your community, a free event is likely the way to go.
Pick an appropriate hardware store event location
Pick a spot in your store to host your event. Consider the layout of your store and the type of activity that’s taking place. Do you need tables and chairs, rows of seats or display tables? Will it be inside or outside?
Do you need a power connection? Make sure you’ve worked out these logistics before you’ve promoted your event – and when it comes to the tech side of things, test, test, and test again!
Figured out the logistics? Now promote, promote, and promote…
Now that you’ve decided on your hardware store event, it’s time to promote it. Traditional and online methods can be used to help fill seats.
Design a physical poster. Start by designing an engaging poster and social media posts to get the word out there. Don’t worry – you don’t need to be Michelangelo to do this.
Tools like Canva and Easil have tonnes of premade event poster templates so you have the potential to put together a striking event graphic in minutes. Don’t forget to include key information like location, time, registration information and a quick overview of the event. A nice eye-catching graphic can go a long way too. Pin it up around your store and neighboring businesses.
Make an event graphic for social media. The design for the event post should follow the physical poster design. Keep them consistent. The design could be simplified for social in comparison to the physical poster. You can always include basic event details in the body of the post.
When writing about your event on social, you should focus on what’s in it for the customer.
Beck Paint & Hardware hit a nice sweet spot in this Facebook post.
Make a Facebook event and get your family and friends to share it.
Event-websites like Meetup and Eventbrite are a fantastic way to register interest for your event. Try to limit the number of ways (email, phone, event website) that people can register interest as it can get a little confusing if there are too many. Streamline it into one place if possible. You can always send your social traffic to these sites.
Event platforms/sites are another way to stand out to people in your area who might not be in your social media network.
Tips for surviving event day
Prepare for the worst
Have all your ducks in a row when it comes to event day. Prepare for all eventualities. Anything could happen, so think it through in as much detail as possible.
It’s hard to throw the perfect event if you have zero experience, but make sure you go to bed the night before knowing that you’ve done everything in your ability to prepare for it.
If that means reposting the event on social media to fill some empty seats to calling up attendees the day before for peace of mind, go for it.
Event structure is key
Have a clear beginning and end time. There’s nothing worse than going to an event that has a poor structure. Your guests shouldn’t be left with any doubt about what is going on.
Communicate with attendees regularly throughout the event. Remember that everyone at your event has their own schedules to keep. Aim to keep on time, but at the same time, have enough activity to fill the allocated time slot. Maybe nominate a particularly charismatic staff member to be the timekeeper/MC.
Make sure you have enough staff on call to keep things running smoothly on the day. If you’re working alone, try to hold the event after hours so you don’t have to worry about serving customers simultaneously. Remove complexity and adjust it to your resources.
One last thing – don’t forget to thank your guests for their attendance. It’s always a nice touch to follow up, even if it’s a short and sweet thank you in a Facebook post or email (if you have their contact details). A thank you goes a long way.
Happy event day!
Events are the perfect way to switch things up and generate positive word of mouth about your hardware store.
It’s important to realize that some things will go well, while others may not. Every event is a learning experience, which you can build on and take into each new in-store event.
Play it right and you’ll have customers lining up to come back for more!