Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.
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HARDWARE RETAILING | March 2017 36 Checkouts Looking for creative ways to engage customers? Whether it's promotions, merchandising, special events or unique advertising, we cover it here. Have an idea? Contact Liz Lichtenberger, firstname.lastname@example.org, to have your story considered for publication. COMMUNITY RELATIONS Village Paint and Design is Going Blue W ho is 7'1", blue and high-energy? If you are from a community surrounding one of the three Village Paint and Design stores in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area, the answer is easy: It's Benny! Benny, alter ego and creation of the store's operations manager of paint sales, Tim Stotler, is more than just a costumed mascot. He's turned into an effective way of spreading cheer and connecting with the community. Stotler introduced Benny four years ago as the Village Paint and Design's official Benjamin Moore mascot. He wears the vendor's logo prominently and sports the number "0voc" on his back. A quick look at the character's Facebook page reveals Benny has an active social calendar that includes in-store promotions, local gatherings, festivals, minor league baseball games and the local Fourth of July parade. He's even made a few hospital visits to cheer up sick children. He's well-known for his energy, enthusiasm and ability to make everyone smile. "When we first took him to a parade, people generally accepted him," says Stotler. "Now, they are yelling his name, and he interacts with everybody. Working the parade route is a real workout for me! Whenever there's an opportunity such as a sports event for a mascot, I try to make sure Benny has center stage." One of his favorite venues for Benny is the local kindergarten. He offers to come in and spend a half-hour talking to the children when they are learning about colors. Benny, of course, talks about blue. "Benny will come in and talk with the kids. It gets them involved, and the teachers and kids love it," says Stotler. While he enjoys interacting with the children and the community, Stotler also considers it a good way to make a positive impression for his business, for both current and future customers. "Having this character imprints in kids' minds the Benjamin Moore brand, so they are comfortable with our brand right from the start," he says. "It also gets our store out into the community so they know we support them and can connect with positive experiences." To read more about Village Paint and Design, turn to Page 66. Ever since Benny appeared in town as the official Benjamin Moore mascot for Village Paint and Design, he's been in demand at a variety of local events, such as parades, festivals, ball games and educational days at the local kindergarten.