E Hayes & Sons

the theatre of business

Invercargill is located in the south of the south Island of New Zealand – this region is appropriately referred to as Southland. I spoke to a number of New Zealanders and they told me to ‘give Invercargill a miss – there is nothing there’. Fortunately, I ignored this advice and went to have a look for myself.

It is a quite a drive from Dunedin and there are a few interesting places along the way – stopping does add to the length of the journey. Our journey was mostly in drenching rain – which I particularly love – there is something about driving along country roads, listening to music, and windscreen wipers. We arrived in Invercargill and stayed at the Balmoral Motor Lodge in a very clean, spacious room with, a kitchen and a little lounge room. The lady on reception was efficient and friendly and, after hearing we had been on the road for a week, advised us that there was a well-equipped on-site laundry and they had little packets of washing powder for $2 and because we had a full kitchen in our room we might like to visit the supermarket just down the road [indicating the direction].

That night we cooked up a nice meal, had a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and watched TV.

The next morning was wet and wild and we drove out to Bluff and the Bluff Lighthouse. On our return journey I spotted a brand-new Indian Motorcycle outside a delicatessen [Indian Motorcycles are a legendary brand, however, I thought that they were no longer manufactured]. I did a U-turn and spoke with the owner – Julian Boyd, a marine engineer and Indian motorcycle enthusiast. Indian Motorcycle [is a brand not a country of origin]. Julian informed me that he was on a pilgrimage to visit E. Hayes Hardware Store in Invercargill. He could see I was intrigued and told me about how Hayes Hardware in Invercargill have Burt Munro’s motorcycle on display.

To read more on Indian Motorcyles

In motorcycle circles [sorry] Burt Munro (1899-1978) is a legend, particularly in New Zealand; setting 3 speed records – his 1967 record still stands. Burt, an Invercargill local, modified his own motorcycles and travelled to Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA on numerous occasions to compete – the story is recounted in a movie – ‘The world’s fastest Indian’ (2005), starring Anthony Hopkins.  Adding to the legend was that Burt Munro was a working-class man with simple tastes who loved tinkering with his ‘Munro Special’. According to the Burt Munro Challenge website “Burt Munro was an extraordinary character that represents real and positive kiwi attributes such as ingenuity, dogged determination, and a laid back and humorous demeanour”. The movie increased interest in Burt Munro and to pay respect to the man and his achievements the Southlands Motor Cycle Club now conduct the Burt Munro Challenge. This event attracts motorbike riders from all over New Zealand and is regarded as one of the premier motorsport events in New Zealand.

quite a surprise

The E. Hayes and Sons Hardware Store was far better than I expected, imagine a large hardware store with vintage cars, motorcycles, and equipment from the past. This is certainly a great exemplar of the ‘theatre of business’. In addition, the product range within the hardware store has great breadth and depth and selected with care for quality and value. There is also a good range of homeware products. The staff were friendly and professional and, recognising that I was not a local, I was informed on two occasions that I could shop online. Did we go to E. Hayes Hardware Store with the intention to buy? – No; but we did – as there were a few little things that captured our attention. You see – they have a good range of quality brands that Western Australian department stores no longer stock.

Strangely, as I watched the farmers waiting to be served I thought of Disneyland and how, just like Disneyland, this hardware has employed the vintage displays to make the wait more pleasant and seem shorter. And on this day with the rain bucketing down the shop was a welcome relief.

Now I love country hardware stores and can browse for ages PLUS I admire the kind of service where the serviceperson actually listens -In my mind Hayes in Invercargill have taken hardware to a new level – they would probably say that it is ‘just good old fashion customer service’.

The lesson for marketing practitioners is to consider the theatre when designing or redesigning the store layout – try to create a unique value proposition for consumers and if you are in a country town perhaps try providing an experience that is worth sharing.

As you would expect E Hayes are one of the sponsors for the Burt Munro Challenge and Julian Boyd attended the event.

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