A few times per year, Eventt Norris’s customer service conversations turn into explanations of how grass grows and chats about the word “clamp” starting with the letter C and “glove” starting with the letter G.
Norris, who owns Ossian Do it Best Hardware in Ossian, Indiana, leads store tours for preschool classes every spring, carrying on a decades-old tradition.
“I try to literally show them the tools of the trade,” he says.
He learns some things, too. “We get lots of stories, like ‘My room
is this color’ and ‘My mom plants tomato plants.’”
The preschool classes, which have 20 to 25 students each, spend about an hour in the store checking out the paint-mixing area, identifying tools
and asking questions. If one child notices a sump pump while walking through the store and wants to know what it does, Norris stops to explain.
“It’s interesting to hear what the kids like about the hardware or what they do with mom and dad,” he says.
And the children are eager to tell hardware stories and leave with a free bag of popcorn. When they return to the store later with their parents, they remind Norris they’ve been there before and that he gave them popcorn.
Engaging youngsters lets the store build brand recognition in potential customers from a very early age, he says. “We like to put on events in general just to engage the community. Getting the younger generation in has got to start somewhere.”