Who says a trip to the hardware store can’t be romantic? Not me!
Not any of my friends, either, as it turns out.
Over the summer, couple after couple pointed out to me (in unrelated conversations) that once they had settled down, they spent far more time together going out to hardware stores than going out to restaurants.
To a one, my friends joked that “date night” had evolved from stolen kisses and candle-lit dinners into Friday night trips to the hardware store, where they would spend hours with sales associates talking about plumbing questions, painting solutions, fencing, and other home-based projects in need of a joint decision in order to move forward.
This new style “date night” got me thinking about ways in which a hardware store could increase the in-store romance factor for customers who come strolling through with their sweeties, project lists in hand.
If marketed correctly, this could be a prime opportunity for a hardware store to add a new dimension to its existing branding strategy. The key here, of course, is to have fun with the idea.
For example, Lowe’s could hang a big sign in the middle of the store that reads “Lowe-ver’s Lane” and create a little pathway beneath it, lined with an assortment of store products that feed the romantic in all of us. (I’m thinking arbors, benches, painted pots, tropical plants, wind chimes, etc.)
Next – and if you read my blog regularly, you know this is coming – invite local romance authors to host meet-and-greets at “Lowe-ver’s Lane” in the evenings and on weekends. Stock a shelf or table top with the authors’ books. It is not an official signing; you want the authors and the customer to create a buzz, to take pictures together, shake hands, and not to be separated by a desk.
By partnering with local writers, hardware stores are able to tap into the (often extensive) social media networks and blog readerships we self-published and indie authors build. It’s free marketing for the stores and, in return, free in-person networking space for the authors.
I can see it now…
A Lowe’s employee says, “May I help you find something today?”
A Lowe’s customer replies, “Yes. I’m looking for a happy ending. Do you have that in stock?”
The employee replies, “We sure do! In fact, we’re well stocked in happy endings, right down there on Lowe-ver’s Lane.”
The Lowe’s marketing team could design some fun tee-shirts (his and hers, of course) that play on the idea of their stores being the new “it” place for romance. The idea is to keep it cute, funny, and lighthearted.
“My wife and I had date night at our local Lowe’s, and all I got was…a NEW GRILL!”
“My husband and I had date night at Lowe’s and all I got was…GORGEOUS new kitchen tile!”
Whether it is husbands/wives, boyfriends/girlfriends, or life partners – have fun with all the possibilities, Lowe’s. Host a contest on your website and let customers submit ideas for the tee-shirt slogans, designs, and colors, then let the public vote on the winners. Give each of the slogan winners a free gift card to the store and let them suggest local romance authors they would like to be invited to “Lowe-ver’s Lane” for a meet-and-greet.
Once the tee-shirt contest is over, get them printed and give them away as “free with purchase” in, say, the month of February. It is free marketing for you each time one of them is worn. Let customers post pictures of them wearing their “Lowe-ver’s Lane” tee-shirts on your Facebook page, or a special new section on your website.
Romance; it really is everywhere.
For the most part, the single greatest emotional investment we make is in the health of our relationship with our spouse or partner, and the single greatest financial investment we make is in the purchase and upkeep of our home.
The two are already joined, Lowe’s. You’d simply be making it official, complete with romance authors, sparkly hearts, and hardware. What’s not to love?