Courtesy Malone Lumber
Courtesy Malone Lumber

It can be tough to attract new customers, especially when they don’t know what you have. With research showing that women play a pivotal role in most home improvement decisions, Malone Lumber of Greenville, Ky., decided to reach out to these key influencers.

Assistant manager and home décor manager Angie Strader learned that some pro dealers had been successful with a ladies night, so she went to work adapting the concept. First, she reached out to vendors to this Do it Best member store. They were quick to accept her request to participate in an after-hours event geared to female customers. Then she contacted local contractors to demonstrate home improvement projects. Plus, she partnered with businesses offering services that would appeal to women, including manicures, skin care and makeup tips, and massages.

The event was marketed through newspaper and radio advertising, Facebook posts, and flyers in the store, schools, and other businesses. Malone Lumber invested approximately $3,000 for the event. That included about $1,100 for radio and newspaper advertising and $500 for food and payroll for many of the company’s 30 employees who worked that night.

The evening of the event, male employees of Malone Lumber—dressed smartly in black slacks and white shirts—parked cars, served refreshments, and escorted the ladies to the various booths.

Sherwin-Williams representatives answered paint questions and displayed color trends for the coming year. Freedom Rail reps showed closet organization systems, Lansing Wholesale reps discussed cabinetry, countertop, and sink styles, and Berry Flooring reps rolled out the latest in laminate and vinyl. A Guardsman sales rep demonstrated products by cleaning and restoring a used end table.

As women waited for massages and manicures, they chatted with contractors who demonstrated how to apply caulk, replace toilet tank levers, and hang pictures. A local stonemason talked about stone products and discussed designs for retaining walls, fire pits, and patios.

The event drew an estimated 140 women of all ages. “We were going to open at 6, but by 5:30, there were gobs of people here,” Strader says. Adds Malone’s president, Paul Gabbard: “We were shocked; we really were. In a small town, that’s pretty good.”

Customers talked about the event for weeks afterwards and posted messages on Malone’s Facebook page.

“We had a lot of ladies [attend the event] who had never been in the store,” Strader says. Several made purchases from the home décor area and said they did not realize before Ladies’ Night that the store offered cabinetry or an extensive flooring line.

Many also wanted to know when the next Ladies Night would be held. Gabbard says plans are in the works to make it an annual event. Strader already knows that for next year she will put the food in the back.

She also will add more services and demonstrations—and at least one more massage therapist. “The lady who did the massages didn’t have a break the whole time,” Strader says.