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Customers Get Creative for Ace Color of the Year Contest

Shoppers who walked into Dixon Hardware and Lumber couldn’t miss the balloons and colorful fun happening in the store’s power aisle.

Customers and their children were seated at a table, playing with paint, eating snacks and naming the paint colors they created.

Customers mix colors at Dixon Hardware and Lumber in Dixon, California.

The Dixon, California, store had invited its shoppers to compete in the Ace Hardware Color of the Year Contest.

Ace Hardware Corp. names a color of the year each year, but 2018 was the first time Ace asked customers to submit paint samples to help choose the color.

Ace stores throughout the country hosted parties in their stores and allowed their customers to mix paint and enter colors in store contests, with each store selecting a favorite to submit to the national competition.

Judges from Ace corporate narrowed down thousands of submissions to 25 and posted them online for public voting May 30-June 5. Now the company is inviting people to vote online to choose the color of the year and six runners up, which will then be sold by Ace retailers in 2019.

Ace stores, including Dixon Hardware, hosted the in-store paint parties March 24.

The staff at a Costello’s Ace Hardware store gets ready for customers to mix paint and compete in the Ace Hardware Color of the Year Contest.

For example, Costello’s Ace Hardware in New York hosted their own versions of the event at 28 of the company’s 30 stores. Each store’s staff could personalize the party and contest.

“Each store took its own twist on it,” says Valerie Calandrino, communications specialist for Costello’s Ace.

Some of the Costello’s stores grilled food as part of the event. At some locations, staff encouraged customers to also paint portraits of their favorite store employees.

Customers created paint colors and gave them names, such as Japanese Maple Blossom for a shade of magenta and Mac and Cheese for a yellow, Calandrino says.

“We just thought it was a good opportunity to have some fun in the stores,” she says.

Dixon Hardware’s party included product and color-matching demonstrations in addition to the color contest.

For the contest, Dixon Hardware and Lumber store owner Stacey Tryba and operations manager Matthew Henderson explained to customers how to take primary colors and mix them in tiny quantities to create new shades.

Twenty-five customers submitted contest entries, but many more stopped to watch customers explore their creative side within a hardware store.

After the event, customers and employees at Dixon voted for their favorite colors. The most popular color won its artist a gift card and painting supplies from the store and entry in the national contest.

“It’s very important for us to develop a relationship with our customers, and help them understand we’re a locally owned small business,” Henderson says. “It’s important to let them know what our capabilities in paint are, and really develop a neighborhood atmosphere.”

Ace opened up the contest nationally to attract attention to its stores’ paint offerings. A winning customer at each participating Ace store won a $25 gift card and paint supplies, including brushes and 3 gallons of paint, valued at more than $100.

“The Color of the Year Contest and the Neighborhood Paint Party were created to engage consumers in our local stores across the country with in-store visuals, color-inspired music, snacks, hands-on activities and product demonstrations,” Meghan Williams, paint category manager for Ace Hardware Corp., says. “Some customers loved their colors so much they decided to purchase paint that was color matched to what they created in store.”

About Kate Klein

Kate Klein
Kate is profiles editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and industry events and writes about retailers' unique contributions to the independent home improvement sector. She graduated from Cedarville University in her home state of Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and minored in creative writing. She loves being an aunt, teaching writing to kids, running, reading, farm living and, as Walt Whitman says, traveling the open road, “healthy, free, the world before me.”

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