Hipp Modern Building Supply might tout the “modern” in its name, but some of owner Gentry Hipp’s latest moves recall a lesson as old as retailing: Give the people what they want.
Not long ago, the Mountain View, Ark., dealer became the dropoff point for dry cleaning and laundry for a service located 37 miles away, that suddenly became the nearest spot after a local store closed. Hipp gets 10% of the service’s price, but that’s not his goal. “The big draw for me was the fact I would be having so much foot traffic for the drop-offs that hopefully it will spur people’s minds that, ‘Hey, I need to grab a plumbing fitting or a bolt or some lumber,’” he said. “For me, it’s not about the money I make. It’s getting people coming into my store and getting comfortable with us and keeping Hipp Modern Builders Supply fresh in their mind.”
But that’s not all. About one Saturday each month, Gentry shifts some carpets and vinyls out of his flooring section, turns on the popcorn machine, brings out drinks and a homemade screen, and shows a family-friendly film to the community for free. Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula” drew several dozen last Halloween, while February got a love theme with “Lady and the Tramp.” There’s always a door prize, free Mrs. Meyers soaps, and occasionally gift cards.
“As it was said to me one time, ‘I am selling heart, not a service,’” Gentry said. “I am doing this to try and make a memory for the community.”