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Impulse display of soda

Category All-Stars: Impulse

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for success, but home improvement retailers can look within the industry to see how their peers found success and come away with best practices to implement in their own companies.

Hardware Retailing spoke to four retailers who have turned core categories into all-star categories.  Read on to discover how Larson’s Hardware Hank uses soda to bring in more customers, and check out the other all-star categories: hand and power tools; outdoor power equipment; and housewares.

Satisfying Customers With Super Selection

Boasting over 150 varieties, the soda selection at Larson’s Hardware Hank in Osage, Iowa, offers a colorful impulse opportunity that catches customers’ attention as soon as they walk through the door. Steve Bremer and his wife Carrie, owners of Larson’s Hardware Hank, decided to sell gourmet soda four years ago after seeing a similar display at their wholesaler market.

Bremer started with 60 unusual brands of soda in the store, stocking the product on existing shelves. When a local grocery store sold all of its coolers, Bremer purchased an 8-foot section of coolers as another spot to display soda.

“Thanks to that cooler, we now have over 120 varieties of soda that customers can buy cold and 150 types of soda in all,” he says.

Even with the wide variety the store currently stocks, Bremer is always looking for new sodas to add to the mix. He still works with the vendor he discovered at the wholesaler market, and that company does the legwork to find new soda varieties to sell in the store. Bremer purchases primarily based on what the vendor recommends.

“The soda moves quite well for us,” he says. “We order by the pallet several times a year, which helps keep our inventory rotated and gives us a chance to try new flavors without a large investment.”

Bremer says he also uses a nearby soda distributor to bring in as many local flavors as he can find.

Customers love the eye-catching display and being able to find sodas that remind them of other places they’ve lived or visited. Bremer says it’s easy to spot new customers because their eyes light up when they see the soda coolers for the first time.

“We also have many repeat customers and always try to keep their favorites on hand,” Bremer says. “If their favorites aren’t available, they ask our staff for recommendations, so we have to keep up on our sampling.”

Bremer advertises the soda in flyers and on the store’s Facebook page, and he says they see many repeat customers after an initial soda purchase. He also runs contests geared toward kids, giving away soda-for-a-year cards in random drawings.

“We are always looking to increase foot traffic, so if the kids bring their parents in, we have that opportunity for add-on sales,” says Bremer.

Next to the soda cooler, the store provides cardboard bottle holders for customers to create their own four-packs.

“We have customers who give away the four-packs as birthday gifts or purchase them for themselves to enjoy at family movie nights,” says Bremer.

Along with soda, Larson’s also stocks other impulse products near the registers. Bremer says he loves selling Iowa-made products and currently has a locally made bug repellent and a local barbecue sauce, which is one of the store’s biggest sellers.

3 Tips for Selling Impulse

  1. Go For Nostalgia
    Tug on customers’ heart strings and focus on the familiar and well-loved when marketing impulse buys. At Larson’s Hardware Hank, customers love the selection of sodas from around the country, and they enjoy finding sodas they drank as kids or a local drink from a vacation spot or their hometown.
  2. Create a contest
    Larson runs a contest where kids can enter a random drawing for soda-for-a-year cards. The punch cards are good for 52 sodas, and the winning kids are allowed to redeem multiple sodas in one visit so they can share with their siblings. The punch cards are kept at the register so parents don’t have to keep track of them.
  3. Mix and match
    Customers can build their own four packs of soda with the provided carriers at Larson’s. Even if you don’t have such a broad soda selection, you can follow Larson’s lead by offering promotions, like a buy 2, get 1 free deal on all products in your checkout lane or a drink for $1 with every purchase of a local snack item.

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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