Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus opened the first Home Depot in Atlanta, Georgia in 1978 with a simple, singular vision: meet the needs of the do-it-yourselfer in a consolidated location. With the help of Pat Farrah, a merchandising guru, and Ken Langone, an investment banker, that is exactly what they accomplished on their way to becoming the most successful home improvement operation in the world.
Home Depot History
The first two Atlanta locations were 60,000 square feet warehouses that carried more than 25,000 unique items and dwarfed the average hardware store at the time. However, Blank and Marcus were not satisfied with their initial stock on hand and those 25,000 unique items. They wanted more. They wanted to impress people greatly, and they managed to do this with a bit of illusion. Wherever there was empty space, they filled it with an empty box. They stacked those boxes to the rafters, at the doors, and in the aisles. This technique was so successful that it is still used to today by many warehouse-style businesses.
In the People Business
However, Home Depot focused on substance as well. According to Bernie Marcus in their book Built from Scratch, they knew right from the beginning that “at the end of the day, we’re in the people business.” They leveraged that knowledge to distinguish themselves from the competition in other ways than just their size. For example, they began a DIY “school” for area homeowners. This school offered free courses that instructed homeowners in a diverse array of skills ranging from tasks as simple as using a power drill to those as complex as retiling a bathroom or building a deck in the backyard.
An Inverted Pyramid
It is common for a business to engage its client in this manner today, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was unheard of. Home Depot was actually investing in their customers by giving them the skills to use other products that they would not normally have had a reason to purchase. This people-oriented approach by Blank and Marcus carried through to their corporate structure and to the way they treated their employees. Home Depot made a point of fostering an entrepreneurial environment that inspired their associates to success. Arthur Blank is famous for saying to his employees, “It is your business, your division, your market, your store, your aisle and your customer.”
More than the World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer
On the way to becoming the largest home improvement retailer in the world, Home Depot built a reputation for being the ultimate hardware shop. Other achievements include being the youngest retailer on the Fortune 50, and as of 2009, belonging in the top 50 of Forbes magazine’s list of America’s Most Reputable companies. In their local communities, they lead with their Kids Workshops, by being a heralded Energy Star partner, and perhaps most notably for having committed more than $11 million to recovery efforts throughout the areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.
A Sporting Legacy
Since its inception, Home Depot has had a strong connection to the world of sports due to a deeply rooted “love of the game” by the company’s owners. Arthur Blank has gone on to become the owner of both the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and the Arena Football League’s Georgia Force. Since 1998, Home Depot has been the primary sponsor of NASCAR’s Team #20 and then rookie drive Tony Stewart. That sponsorship elevated Home Depot to even greater levels of visibility, and it has helped integrate the company into America’s pop culture. Recently, Tony Stewart left Team #20, and Home Depot is now represented by young up-and-comer Joey Logano.
A Promotional Legacy
One might think that due to all of this success that Home Depot would lack a strong motivation for aggressive promotion, but that has not been the case at all. In addition to all of those other positives, Home Depot has built a strong name for its “Savings Center”. Whether online or in-store, the Savings Center is Home Depot’s hub for sales and promotions, and they also use it to advertise the liquidation of their own and their partners’ overstock. These clearance specials are a great way to save a great deal of money on big-ticket items.
The 10% Price Match Guarantee
Today’s consumer takes price matching for granted, but when Home Depot began offering the service to its customers in the late 1970s it was anything but common. That commitment to low prices continues on today. If a customer can find a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from any retailer, Home Depot matches it and gives the customer an additional 10% off. Unlike so many other retailers, Home Depot even price matches their online competition, and they will price match themselves for those customers that find their local prices higher than the ones online.
How to Find Promotions Online
The hunt for great Home Depot deals should always begin with a visit to their main website. Home Depot does not offer any continuing discount or reward programs currently, but they do offer regular promotion. These generally belong to one of four categories: weekly, monthly, holiday, and seasonal. As the name suggests, the weekly specials change each week so make sure to check in often. While there, customers also have access to their local flyer online, so that they can peruse the specials specific to their area without leaving the comfort of their own home.
It also helps to stop in at Home Depot – Moving from time to time. This website is Home Depot with a focus on customers moving into a new home. It runs its own promotions, and not too long ago gave customers a $100 off anything coupon just for registering. Customers might also see a great Home Depot deal pop up on any number of “price watcher” and “deal catcher” websites from time to time. Generally, these are coupons that can be held elsewhere, but Home Depot has been known to run exclusive promos for their partners. Remember that along with price matching, Home Depot will generally match competitors’ promotions as well.
How to Find Promotions Offline
Some of the best Home Depot promotions occur right in the store, and a great example of this is the damaged materials section that each Home Depot store maintains. In many cases, they will put entire pallets out in that area even though only a small portion of the inventory is actually damaged. The damaged materials are often discounted as high as 75% off, but the discount fluctuates drastically depending on the item.
Home Depot also offers great discounts for people opening up a line of credit. Sometimes there will be a credit promotion available online or even over the phone, but store managers can approve up to 10% off at any time. They don’t hand out that big discount for just any reason, but they generally will when you commit to opening a line of credit and spending several hundred dollars. A great piece of advice is to wait until ready to make that big purchase for the big home project and then speak to the store manager. A 10% discount off of that bathroom remodeling or roofing project can make a big difference.