Hardware Retailing

DEC 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | December 2018 18 Checkouts COMMUNITY RELATIONS Special Delivery From the North Pole D ecember is a busy time for Santa Claus, but the staff at Crown Ace Hardware are giving him some help. They're answering some of the many letters he's sure to get every year. Crown Ace has 14 stores in coastal southern California, two in Lake Havasu, Arizona, and one store on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii. For the past seven years, in the weeks before Christmas, staff decorate a mailbox in the store and invite their younger visitors to write a letter directly to Saint Nicholas himself. Each child who puts a letter in the mailbox, along with a stamped, self-addressed return envelope, gets a letter in return before Christmas, postmarked from the North Pole, along with some good memories of their local hardware store. The Crown Ace team oversees the magic behind the mailbox. They open each letter addressed to Santa, write a personalized response and dress up the envelope with colorful stickers. All letters are then mailed in bulk to a post office in Anchorage, Alaska, where they are given a North Pole postmark and returned individually to each child. "Some of the letters the kids send are cute, some are sad and some are really funny," says Skip Snead, marketing coordinator. "We have a great time writing back to each and every child as if we were Santa Claus ourselves! Every year the program gets bigger and bigger." Snead says they replied to more than 1,000 letters this past year between the 16 participating Crown Ace stores. In past years, he's used store staff to reply to the letters. This year, he's getting help from local senior living residences in the area, finding a way to draw even more members of the community into the program. "This is a magical time of year for the children," he says. "We hope this gives them a reason to remember us." Children visiting Crown Ace Hardware can use a specially marked mailbox to send letters directly to Santa Claus and get a personalized response. Looking for creative ways to engage customers? Whether it's promotions, merchandising or special events, we cover it here. Have an idea? Contact Melanie Moul at mmoul@nrha.org to have your story considered for publication.

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