Making Holidays Bright: See more ways retailers are bringing holiday joy to their communities at hardwareretailing.com/holidays-bright.
What started with 18 children and two hours of shopping four years ago has become four evenings and hundreds of young shoppers browsing the aisles of Manotick Home Hardware in Manotick, Ontario. The Kids Only Christmas Shopping event has provided a fun way for children to shop for gifts for their parents and loved ones, says store manager Heather McDonnell.
“It was a little chaotic as we navigated through the first event, but the parents and children loved it,” McDonnell says. “The staff and volunteers felt good seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and hearing the funny anecdotes from them during the process.”
Prior to the event, parents or other family members can purchase a gift card for whatever amount they wish the child to spend, which reserves them a 30-minute time slot to shop. Store employees help each child shop based on the parent-provided gift idea list or guides them to select gifts. While the children shop, parents can spend time in the “parent lounge,” enjoying coffee and cookies from a local coffee shop while the store’s current promotions and offerings play on a TV, McDonnell says.
The children pay for the items with their gift cards and are paired with a volunteer to gift wrap them, McDonnell says. They are also treated to a candy cane from Santa.
“It is wonderful to see children return each year,” McDonnell says. “We love hearing stories and seeing photos of Christmas mornings from these families and love the sense of community this event creates.”
A Gingerbread House Goes Life-Sized
The holidays got an upgrade at Hartville Hardware in Hartville, Ohio, when the store’s Idea House transformed into a giant gingerbread house. The Idea House, which sits in the center of the 305,000-square-foot store, is a full-size home that showcases the latest trends in home design.
Decorated with products the store sells, the gingerbread house featured gum drops made of paint buckets, lollipops constructed from pool noodles, PVC pipe peppermint sticks and life-size cut-out gingerbread characters custom designed from the store’s mill, says marketing director Kelli Hill.
Working in shifts, Hartville Hardware team members began converting the 1,830-square-foot Idea House into a gingerbread house in late October. They did the bulk of the decorating in a single day, but the project took about a week to complete and it was finished in time for customers to enjoy while holiday shopping, Hill says.
“The staff worked hard to create a memorable experience the community could enjoy,” Hill says. “It was a labor of love, and watching our guests enjoy the transformation was simply magical.”
Merchandising for the Holidays
Opened first in the Delaware, Ohio, location of E&H Hardware, The Nook—a store-within-a-store that sells gifts, housewares and more—is now found in four locations of the operation, which has 32 stores in Ohio.
During the holiday season, The Nook creatively merchandises products to highlight stocking stuffers and gifts for everyone on a customer’s holiday list, says director of merchandising and procurement Scot Steele.
“We worked with the other local businesses to carry items they weren’t, so we wouldn’t compete with one another and could offer more to customers,” Steele says. “Customers love seeing the creative gift ideas, especially around the holidays.”