- Home Depot got off to a rocky start in 1979 Atlanta.
- Founders Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank struggled to attract shoppers to the store at first.
- Home Depot even ran a promotional stunt where it handed out dollar bills to Atlantans, but it didn’t help.
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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.”
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.”