Not sure what to do with that old pair of cowboy boots? Make a lamp!
At Hillsboro Hardware in Nashville, Tennessee, Jason Mathias and his staff have done it all—they’ve made fixtures out of just about everything: boots, wine bottles and car parts, to name a few. And while at first glance you might think it’s somebody’s creative Pinterest project, there’s a lot more to the story.
It all started in Hillsboro’s store services department. Mathias has always offered standard store services, such as screen and glass repair. But many customers would come in to the store asking for advice on how to do repairs not on the store’s list of standard services. Mathias and his staff would try to help walk them through a repair, but many times it was evident the customer still wasn’t sure how to do it.
“Too often, the customer was overwhelmed, and we could see their lack of confidence,” he says. “So I started telling customers, ‘We can do that for you.’ One of the largest projects we got asked about was repairing lamps and fixtures, so we added that to our list of store services.”
Typically, someone had an old lamp that wasn’t working any more, but that they didn’t want to throw away. Mathias would repair it, and that’s when the custom lamp creation niche started to explode.
“People began bringing us items and asking if we could create lamps out of them,” he says. “We said, ‘Of course we can.’”
As their reputation for lighting up just about anything grew, so did the demand.
Some are quirky, such as the old-fashioned, industrial fire extinguisher with a light perched on top; others are sentimental, such as the champagne bottle from a couple’s wedding they wanted made into a lamp. And sometimes Mathias creates his own lamps to display in the front window or sell.
All of them have contributed to Hillsboro’s reputation for being able to fix just about anything, and to be able to put a light socket atop nearly any object.
In fact, it’s not unusual to see out-of-towners driving a distance for Hillsboro’s lamp service. Mathias says it’s one of the store’s fastest-growing categories.