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Pinewood Derby workshop; a double win for scouts, store.

When winter sales hit a seasonal slump in 2009, Old Town Ace Hardware owner Rich Heilman looked to his sons' Cub Scout experience for an opportunity to increase awareness for his business while bolstering community support for his store.

For the past four years, Heilman has worked with the local Boy Scout Council in Alexandria, Va., to host workshops for parents and Scouts participating in its annual Pinewood Derby. A local craftsman rough cuts designs, and the store has electric sanders, sand paper and hand tools for the Cub Scouts to perform additional work on their cars. Older Scouts also received service hours for volunteering to help parents and Pinewood Derby participants with the car design process at the workshop.

The event has increased in popularity each year it's been held. What started out as a two-day weekend workshop has grown into an anticipated four-day event that attracted nearly 400 Cub Scout participants in 2011--with lines almost out the door. "The parents appreciated it, especially the dads not skilled with woodworking or the moms doing it with sons," Heilman says.

This year the store also added a philanthropic element to the event. Heilman asked for a $1 voluntary donation per car cut, and Old Town Ace Hardware donated 5 percent of all sales of Pinewood-related products--spray paint, sandpaper and Pinewood products--sold during the workshop. The event raised around $800, Heilman says, which was donated to the Children's Miracle Network and the Boy Scouts of America Colonial District to help offset the cost of the Pinewood Derby District Finals.

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* Don't limit yourself to one type of event or one time of year. The Boy Scouts and other community organizations hold events year round. Summer is a prime time for fishing, sailing and boating contests as well as camping trips.

* To raise community awareness, try hosting an outdoor preparedness seminar in your store and offer special rates for supplies. Bring in a local expert and contact your local Boy Scout Council to network with troop leaders who might be interested in partnering with the store for the event.

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Title Annotation:SPECIAL EVENTS
Publication:Hardware Retailing
Date:Jun 1, 2012
Words:348
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