Hardware Retailing

FEB 2019

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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February 2019 | HARDWARE RETAILING 81 In addition to becoming a fun place for people to grab drinks and catch up, music became an additional offering at The Den that has continued to grow since the first musicians stepped on stage. "We thought it might be cool to have musicians come play here, but the live music organically became part of the experience here after we had someone ask to play here," Bobby says. "We initially thought Saturdays would be the one day we'd have live music, but quickly people requested to play, and now we book up weeks in advance." Additionally, on Sundays, the store has anywhere from two to 10 musicians that will come and jam together from noon until 2 p.m., which helps draw in customers who come enjoy the music and a beer while the musicians practice and improvise. "The Den has been a great addition to the business," Bobby says. "It's an added income stream, and it has even boosted our hardware business. People come to grab a beer and listen to music, and they'll remember they had items they forgot to buy that they can get from us, or they might impulse shop." Throughout the year, the business hosts a few large events, bringing live music, local artisans and food trucks to the community. "If you come in the summer, we host a music festival that has attracted over 500 people to our store," Bobby says. "In the winter, we host an outdoor holiday market, with vendors selling local goods under tents with lights strung along. We set up heaters and hobo barrels to keep shoppers warm while they browse. Anything we can do create a gathering spot in our small town is huge." For retailers who have considered other ways to diversify their business, whether adding a new niche or opening a bar, Bobby says it's important to figure out how to keep customers coming back for more. "I used to hear from my customers, 'I can get this item cheaper at Home Depot,'" Bobby says. "Now they tell me, 'I like coming here because I can get what I need and drink a beer at the same time. We have strengthened our business by focusing on the hardware store items our customers actually want and showcasing The Den, our passion project that has really brought people together." Both locals and visitors of Cabot, Vermont, enjoy going to Harry's Hardware & The Den to shop and enjoy drinks while listening to music. Once the owners (bottom right) decided to put an emphasis on live events, they trimmed down their salesfloor to the most important goods customers need. Photo courtesy of Stefan Hard of Business Vermont

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