As the average age of a home in Hutchison Lumber's market increased to 30 years, the company began seeing more remodels. However, the dealer's products and services weren't geared toward retail customers who wanted to browse through products. So in 2006, the yard opened the Design Center in its Pine, Colo., location to attract these shoppers, and offer contractors a place to send their customers.
"People see us as just a construction place," president Bryan Hutchison says. "We're saying we're not just that; we're open to every customer."
The upper story of the 3,000-square-foot showroom houses four model kitchens, one of them a working kitchen complete with the appliances, granite countertops, and cabinetry the dealer sells. The bottom floor features flooring, countertop, and tile samples. Displays are also dispersed throughout.
To garner more interest from DIY and retail customers, the yard began holding workshops in the working kitchen. The company advertised the events through popular community print publications and a local blog and by handing out fliers to restaurants. The dealer also started alliances with insurance agents, where they could hand referred customers a coupon for a $25 gift card to Hutchison, along with a list of workshop dates.
Past workshops have covered how to design a kitchen space and how to install flooring and tile. Hutchison says about one or two dozen customers show up for the sessions, which are now held once a month from March to August.
"It's been interesting moving from a lumber yard to a home design center," Hutchison says. "But, it has really helped our customers and added value to our store."