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Whitmore Ace Gets Creative With Power Aisle Merchandising

The winning rag-box display was a dog house with Rags the dog sitting outside to greet customers.

When Whitmore Ace Hardware got a surplus buy on boxes of disposable rags, director of marketing Laurie Becker saw an opportunity to get creative with merchandising.

Instead of just stacking the boxes on a regular pallet display, she challenged managers at each of the company’s six locations in northern Illinois to a contest: Use the boxes of rags to build something unique that could be displayed in each store’s main aisle.

“The power aisle can be a challenge for retailers,” she says. “It’s easy to let that area become a junk collector, so we try to put something unique there to catch the shopper’s interest.”

While creating the displays may have helped staff have a little fun, the merchandising tactic also drew attention to the store’s promotional prices on the rags. “We actually discovered that for that particular product, our promotional price was $2 cheaper than our local big-box store,” Becker says. “As an independent business, we often get hit with the perception that we’re high-priced. This helped show customers we actually have great prices.”

Becker says the exercise was valuable in how it engaged the employees. “All of our employees got involved in creating the displays,” she says. “When the team is on board with something like this, they also have the buy in to selling it.”

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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