In this month’s Mastermind, we discussed the most successful events that hardware stores have put on, what went right, what went wrong, and how to replicate success! 

Hardware Innovators is about equipping you with the knowledge and tools you need to excel in today’s market. So, let’s roll up our sleeves, pick up our digital tools, and learn how to strengthen your hardware store’s foundation that will empower your team and propel your business to new heights.

Let’s dive in!

December Recap

Key Takeaways

Every Mastermind call is a little bit different – but one thing is super clear, y’all are experts at what you do and you’re pretty knowledgeable when it comes to hardware stores. For stores that are starting out or have been around for multiple generations, chances are there’s someone who has encountered the same problem that you’re facing and already have a solution! Continue reading to see if you can find a solution from our last Mastermind! (Be sure to join the next Mastermind on January 17th!) 

Marketing Mastermind Takeaways:

During the Marketing Mastermind, we discussed the importance of events for store success – they might drive revenue, but the most important thing they drive is your brand recognition. While you’re putting on these events, be mindful of finding balance. If you overexert yourself or your team, it could lead to burnout.

Here are some events you can do in 2024 – but remember, don’t give yourself burnout! 

  • BBQ – This is a great event to have throughout the year – some of our innovators even host this weekly and make food for their employees. You can have an employee get a BBQ expert badge through ACE, and they get the opportunity to run the event – which includes running the budget, project execution, and understanding the manpower required. A great way to create ownership. 
      • Pro Tip: One of our Innovators recommends giving $100 toward the grill of their choice every time the event is hosted.
  • Passport with Local Businesses – Bring small businesses in your community together to put on a passport. At each location, community members can get free swag, get a stamp in their passport book, and be entered to win a grand prize at the end of it all. For some inspiration, check out what the City of Flagstaff does.
  • Kids Workshops – The opportunity to host kids’ workshops is endless. You can teach them how to build a birdhouse, learn beekeeping, and include anything with STEM. When it comes to building brand loyalty and building a legacy store, these events are the building blocks.
  • Ladies Night – Ladies Night is a great opportunity for women to come together and learn more about the things that their husbands usually do. So when thinking of ideas for that night, ask yourself: what is my wife (or what am I asking my husband) to do? Things like mowing the lawn, hanging a picture, getting out, and snow-blowing are all great starts. Don’t be afraid of asking each department in your store to come up with fun and engaging games, for example, taking a leaf blower and shooting a tennis ball into a barrel. 
  • Grand Reopening – These are the perfect time to host big “all out” kind of parties. Invite vendors to set up booths, have grilling demos, include non-profits, have a bounce house and face paint for kids, and give away tons of freebies, samples, and swag. Reopening are perfect for your community to get to know who you are as a store and the “why” behind who you are.
  • Dog Days –  Invite a mobile groomer, professional photographer, doggie gift bags, toys, partner with non-profit organizations, and have a stick library. You will have hundreds of dogs in store – so be sure to take lots of photos! You can even round up at the registers for a local non-profit rescue. Families will love this, your customers will love this, and so will your staff!  
  • Sourdough Baking Class – This is a great class to have over winter. Invite vendors to donate bags of flour or any other materials that you need to make sourdough. 
  • Canning Class – If you sell a lot of mason jars in your store, you might want to consider hosting a canning class. Be sure to have someone there who is well-versed in canning safety, but these experts can give people a quick “how to” on canning. This would be a great class to hold during the summer! 
  • Gardening Class – Speaking of summer, you can never go wrong with gardening classes! You can include kids in this class and have them build an herb garden or fairy garden. Reach out to your local Cooperative Extension and ask if you don’t have experts in your store! 
  • Invite Santa or build the North Pole/Whoville in your store – One hardware store owner goes all out when it comes to decorating her store to look like Whoville. She has a 25-foot-tall Christmas tree, hangs giant ornaments from her ceiling, has a photo booth set up with lights, invites the Grinch and even Santa comes. What’s better than kiddos getting pictures with Santa? This is another one of those legacy-building type events!
  • Valentine’s Day DIY – Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to have fun DIY kits – whether for adults or kiddos, it doesn’t matter. Invite community members to come in and build a candy machine, photo frame, or wine rack! Bonus points if you have chocolate and wine!
  • Unlock SpringThis event had one hardware store overwhelmed with the line that wrapped around the building! Everyone who spent $20 in-store received a key that may go to a lock on a locker that had prizes ranging from $300 to $10,000 side-by-side. Remember, vendors LOVE to donate to these kinds of events. 
  • Annual Golf TournamentThis annual event held by Valley Ace Hardware is all about fun and games that go towards a good cause!  

For all of these events, be sure to include hiring signage everywhere in the store saying, “This could be you!” to entice people to apply. It never hurts to have resumes on hand when someone inevitably leaves the store. 

Some other highlights that came up during the Marketing Mastermind was:

    • ACE provides video, execution guide, and signage, but know it’ll take more effort to make the event worthwhile! 

General Managers Mastermind Takeaways:

During our General Managers Mastermind, we continued on the discussion of what kind of events were really successful, the top ones being: 

  • BBQ’s – where you cook for your employees weekly.
  • Ladies Night – we’ve even heard of firemen being invited to walk a catwalk! Which, let me tell you, those tickets were SOLD OUT. 
  • Whoville – This became the place to see Santa – can you believe that? A hardware store became the go-to destination for kids and parents to get photos with Santa! (We think it’s genius).
  • Unlock Spring – this event was so successful that it actually had to be reinvented so that there wasn’t a line of traffic in the parking lot! 

Check out the list in the Marketers section to learn more about each of these events!

In addition to talking all things events, we also talked about how to hire event-minded folks who live, and love, and breathe these kinds of things. The recommendation is to hire people who are smarter than you and who are not just good at hosting events but great at it! 

Ultimately, don’t let perfect get in the way of good. 

Here are some resources you might find helpful:

  • The 100th anniversary of ACE is next year! If you’re not currently hosting events, this would be a great opportunity to start.

Owners Mastermind Takeaways:

For our Owners Mastermind, we talked a lot about lumber, rentals, and contractors! Some hardware stores are seeing the cost of labor for their lumber department as little as 10% and then the rental department as high as 34%. Are you seeing similar numbers in your store? 

The question was asked: should you buy a lumberyard or appliance business?

The answer? Lumber is a huge learning curve, but the people who do it well do it really well. It’s all about risk and reward!

Speaking of rentals – large equipment rentals brought in major revenue. Think excavators and bobcats! This could potentially bring in an entirely new market for larger contractors who are looking for last-minute equipment rentals. 

Remember, when it comes to contractors, they like the VIP and white glove treatment. How can you make their lives easier? Here are some ideas: 

  • Drop everything when they call – this shows that you care about them, and in return, you’ll be the first person they call when they need something.
  • How about pick up and drop off of rental equipment – you can even charge a premium for this service. More often than now, it’s about convenience, not the dollar value.

Some other highlights on for the Owners Mastermind:

  •  Are you tracking missed rentals? How often is a piece of equipment sitting in your store costing instead of making you money? Utilizing software like Point of Retail can help you keep track of these metrics! 
  • Here’s some marketing jargon for you to know:
  • TOFU (Top of Funnel) – Think Google search, SEO, etc. You should rank first, especially if you’re in a small town!
  • BOFU (Bottom of Funnel) – This is where your customers start. Do you know the customer journey that they go on? Think as basic as the customer has never heard of our store – so how do they find us. Then work up from there! 

OSR Mastermind:

Announcing a new mastermind group for OSR (outside sales reps!) If you have questions or are running into issues when it comes to bringing in sales from the outside, this is a group where you can share your wins and ask questions. All you have to do is sign up!


Join us Hardware innovators

Join Us on January 17th for our Next Mastermind

For January, we’ll have four groups that meet: marketing, GMS, owners, and OSR.

Need help signing up? Send us an email:

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Does the idea of a monthly meet-up with other hardware stores sound valuable to you? Are you interested in sharing resources, asking questions, and participating with your peers on-demand with an exclusive slack channel?

Join the Hardware Innovators!

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