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Costello's offers advice with a familiar face

"Vinnie," named after Costello's Ace Hardware founder Vincent Costello, offers "quality, seasonally relevant, problem-solving products in front of consumers at a great price."

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The image of "Vinnie" peers at customers from atop a video monitor at Costello's Ace Hardware on Long Island, its nose and fingers hanging over the screen.

"Vinnie" is named after Costello's Ace Hardware founder Vincent Costello, known to longtime customers as Vinnie.

"Mr. Costello spent many years helping customers solve their home improvement problems," said David Faulhaber, marketing coordinator, Costello's Ace, Deer Park, N.Y. "He was so well respected and trusted by the customers that they never questioned his suggestions — they knew that Vinnie would always suggest the right products and give the right advice to get the project completed."

"Vinnie Suggests" is Costello Ace's way of putting "quality, seasonally relevant, problem-solving products in front of consumers at a great price," said Faulhaber, noting that the loop video adds value by showing features, benefits and uses of the product.

The video is positioned low enough so customers can easily view the movie, but high enough so that it is out of harm's way. Support brackets hold the television in place and snap into the side of the endcaps so that the weight is evenly distributed and the item is secured.

A cardboard cutout of one of the Clark + Kensington "Soul People," a campaign Ace corporate ran last year that it is bringing back, is positioned in front of the monitor. "This particular endcap was a combination of products referencing some 'How-to Paint Your Home' FAQ," Faulhaber said.

Costello's Ace invested in the equipment and signage; its vendors provided the video, which is generally downloaded to the in-store television's USB drive. "Each month, our stores go online to download the content and reset the endcaps," Faulhaber said. "The videos are on a continuous loop, so there isn't much maintenance besides turning the television on each day and keeping the endcaps filled."

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"Vinnie Suggests" appears in 15 of Costello's 19 locations; each month a new product appears. "In spring, we'll educate our customers with videos regarding lawn fertilization and grass seeds. Come fall, we will switch gears to choosing the right thermostat or how to repel rodents from your home," Faulhaber said. "We like to feature products that our customers may need some more clarification on."

The "Vinnie Suggests" endcap has been a boon for business. "Slotting space and endcap space is always a highly sought after position within our stores, mainly because of the foot traffic that walks past them," Faulhaber said. "Adding an attention-grabbing video into that equation has sparked new interest of our customers, as well as generated a lot of inquiries from the vendor community to be a part of the program. It's a great way to highlight new items, educate on usage of existing ones and call attention to value."


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