I am a hardware store junkie. I don’t know why; I just am. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of walking into my small-town hardware store as a little girl, holding my grandfather’s hand. Or maybe it’s my belief that a trip to the local hardware store is a great way to get a sense of the community and what’s important to them (not to mention, a recommendation for the best steak in town)! Either way, I love them.
So, when my boyfriend suggested breakfast and a trip to the new local hardware store, I knew it was a date. Man, were my expectations met when we entered Gecko Hardware. They nailed what was relevant to my community – which was why they’ve been rightly dubbed the “Best Urban Farmer Hardware Store” by Dallas Observer.
What’s the secret to their grassroots success? Here are some things we can all take to heart:
- Be relevant. Chicken coops. Local honey. Beer brewing workshops. These are just a few things that strike a chord in my neighborhood. Gecko Hardware has mastered their approach to understanding their unique audience. And by doing so, they effectively deliver relevant products, services and messaging.
- Personify the brand. Or, in Gecko’s case, “roosterfy” the brand. Meet George, the resident rooster that proudly welcomes visitors to the store. One look at George and you know Gecko Hardware is the real deal. They are walking the walk to serve their urban homesteading and DIY audience, not just talking the talk.
- Collaborate for brand equity. Gecko Hardware does an amazing job of partnering with known local brands and artisans to host in-store product samplings, workshops and demonstrations. It’s good marketing for both parties and builds greater brand equity by joining the forces of smaller partners for a bigger collaborative effort.
- Use social media. When I asked owner Zach Montgomery about his social media strategy, he laughed and said: “It’s more organic; no pun intended.” Well, organic or not, it’s a good strategy. They use Facebook and Twitter to interact with customers, chronicle George’s adventures and run product specials. But what’s even smarter is how they leverage other local businesses by liking both long-standing neighborhood institutions as well as the funky new kids on the block.
- Believe in your mission. Gecko Hardware’s mission is simple, yet serious: “leave the planet in better shape than when we found it.” As the first True Value store that is organic, they face occasional challenges but believe in their mission and continue to stick with it. Judging by the Saturday morning foot traffic, their community approves.
Gecko Hardware has reinforced my belief that you don’t have to be a massive brand with a zillion-dollar ad campaign to get branding right. But, you do have to understand your organizational values and how they connect with the values and needs of your customers.
Who in your community is getting it right? Let us know in the comments below.