There are cars in every single parking spot at the hardware store. Cars are wedged on the grassy patches between the lot and the highway, overflowing into the Family Dollar parking lot next door, and stretching past the lumber area in makeshift spots along the sides of the road. As Mitzi maneuvers the party bus (AKA her minivan) onto the grass, my friends and I see a long line of shoppers waiting to enter the store. More cars pull in behind us, searching out free spaces in which to park. It is a balmy spring evening in Mount Pleasant. We have arrived at Ladies Night at the hardware store.
On Thursday, April 19, 2012, Horseshoe Mountain Hardware hosted its first Ladies Night. The store closed its doors to the general community at 6 p.m., and admitted only women until the night was through. The turnout was prolific. Women of all ages came in droves for the event, which smartly married sound marketing with the feminine pulse.
The people working the front door handed out free pink Ladies Night t-shirts. Employees in the paint section offered hands-on instruction in artful textures and finishes. Ladies in the garden area created their own tiered herb pots. A chocolate fountain flowed, surrounded by an array of fruits, crackers, and other dipping items. Another table offered éclair puffs and fresh, diced fruit. Displays of lotions, scarves, and jewelry accessorized the aisles. Four violinists and two cellists, formally dressed, replaced the power tools in the center of the store. Their musical performance was eclipsed only intermittently by powerful zaps and squeals at the stun gun table.
Beauty waylaid my green-thumbed friends in the tented, sun-warmed garden area. They amassed small forests of potted plants around their feet as they contemplated flowerbeds full of snapdragons, lilies, and petunias. Since I was born with a congenital case of murderous thumbs, I sought out a shopping cart in which to transport their verdant blooms. My friends cheered when I appeared with an empty cart. They loaded the cart with colorful flowers for their garden beds and fragrant herbs for their kitchens.
My friend, Casey, bought several vibrant blue senetti, which look like daisies whose roots have been plunged into deep violet ink, the rich imperial hue traveling through long, green veins to saturate the blossoms. As we wheeled the flowers through the store, an admiring customer by the key kiosk exclaimed: “Look at that color!” A pink-clad employee standing nearby nodded in agreement, adding: “Unreal, right?” Several others admired the senetti as we passed them. They immediately turned towards the garden center door to acquire senetti flowers of their own. I always knew my friends set trends.
Casey won a snazzy, hot pink fishing pole in the evening’s culminating giveaways. I lovingly stroked my new taser. We all laughed together as we stood in line to check out. We received complimentary pansies as we exited.
I spoke with the store’s owner, Glen Peel, a week later. Mr. Peel is an amiable man with brown hair, tan skin, and an appealing Western drawl. He devoted his full attention to me as we talked – such a refreshing change from my backlog of condescending experiences with the unhelpful employees at a certain home improvement mega-vendor whose name also starts with H. Mr. Peel told me a little about the store’s history. The original Horseshoe Mountain Hardware opened on Main Street in 1995. It moved to its current, more prominent location along Highway 89 in March of 2002.
Mr. Peel expressed his delight and gratitude over the turnout for the store’s first Ladies Night, which offered many items at cost and many others at significant discount, in addition to the food, t-shirts, door prizes, and giveaways. As someone who wholly believes in the importance of local consumerism, I’m thrilled that the event was received with such enthusiasm. Ladies Night opened a critical door to the women of Sanpete County, encouraging them to cross into the “traditional” realm of “masculine society” and get their hands a little dirty. This, to me, was the heart of what made the evening such a memorable success.
Ladies Night is not a new concept, of course, but Ladies Night at Horseshoe Mountain Hardware rocked our small town like a much-needed high voltage revelation. I loved the evening’s novelty and its great energy, so I was pleased to learn that Mr. Peel plans to make Ladies Night an annual tradition. He welcomes suggestions for improvement, so don’t hesitate to share your ideas if you have any in mind. Next year’s Ladies Night is tentatively scheduled for April 18. I can’t wait.