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From Ranger to Rooster: Statues Make Customers Take Notice

Looking for a way to make your store stand out to customers? Think big!

Whether it’s a hobby-turned-community project or an outside-the-box way to draw in customers, a couple of retailers found large statues in their stores created talking points among their customers.

For example, during the summer and much of the fall, a most uncommon sight greeted visitors to Missoula Ace in Missoula, Mont.: an 8-foot-tall forest ranger.

Store manager Steve Weiler and some friends carved the statue out of wood.

The group worked once a week for almost three years to finish the statue, which, when completed, stood on a 2-foot-tall stump in the middle of the store. It was carved for a National Museum of Forest Service History museum that’s expected to be built in Missoula.

“We thought the museum construction might be underway by the time we finished carving, but it actually hasn’t been started yet,” Weiler says. “The statue needed to be displayed somewhere in the meantime, and we have a large store with a lot of traffic, so we thought it’d be fun to have it here for a while.”

Weiler and his friends began carving together in the early 1990s, when they helped to make a carousel for the city of Missoula. That project was completed in 1996. “After that, we missed meeting once a week, so we looked for other projects,” he says. “One of the carvers in our chickengroup is a forester with the U.S. Forest Service, and he thought of the idea of carving a statue for the museum.”

The statue was moved to the lobby of the Missoula International Airport in October and will be relocated to its new home at the museum once construction is complete.

While the forest ranger statue came as the result of a hobby, John Thomas, owner of Thomas Nursery and Feed Store in Farmersville, La., added a 10-foot rooster statue outside his store for a different reason: to attract customers.

There’s a big poultry business in his area; he thought the statue would be a good way to tie into the local community as well as draw in customers.

“I wanted something to stand out,” he says.

It seems to be working—many of his customers stop by because they see the rooster and want to get a photo.

Both statues were the result of retailers thinking about their communities. Want to try something similar? Take a look around your community and see what the needs and interests are. Think more about your, or your employees’, hobbies. Put the two together and come up with a talking point of your own.

About Liz Lichtenberger

Liz is the special projects editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and trends, visits retailers, and attends industry events. She graduated from Xavier University, where she earned a degree in English and Spanish and was a member of the swim team. Liz is a Louisville, Kentucky, native who lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children. She enjoys swimming, reading, doing home improvement projects around her house and cheering on her two favorite basketball teams, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Xavier Musketeers.

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