The founders of Home Depot originally couldn't pay people to shop in their stores

Courtesy of The Home Depot‘The early days were a struggle,’ Home Depot’s official archivist said. Pictured are Home Depot’s cofounders, Bernie Marcus (left) and Arthur Blank (right).

Home Depot wasn’t an overnight success.

Sure, it’s a practically ubiquitous national home-improvement chain these days. But according to Jennifer Wyatt, Home Depot’s company historian and archivist, shoppers didn’t know what to make of the retailer at first.

Wyatt has worked at Home Depot for over 20 years and even assisted founders Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank in fact-checking their book “Built from Scratch.”


Read more:
Here’s what Home Depot looked like when it first opened in 1979

When the first two Home Depot warehouses opened up in Atlanta in 1979, Wyatt said Marcus and Blank decided to lure in customers with a promotional stunt.

They shelled out $US700 worth of singles to their kids and employees. The idea was simple. Approach pedestrians, hand them a bill, and invite them to “come spend a dollar” at the new Home Depot stores.

Turns out, local shoppers weren’t tempted.

“At 10:00 that first night, they still had dollar bills left over,” Wyatt said. “The early days were a struggle.”

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