David Evans started working in his parents’ hardware store in Hamilton in 2008. In 2010, he bought it. Once he got fully engaged in the business, he started expanding it, and part of that was a conscious attempt to involve the community.
The first project involved painting murals on the side of the building at 714 N. First. He gave four high school art students a loose style outline and theme, a sort of 1920s art deco vibe, and “they made it.”
Next came the Mammo Man campaign to raise money for mammograms for people who couldn’t afford them. Before Sprinkle Pink and before Colors of Cancer, there was Mammo Man. People dressed up as Mammo Man. Ace Hardware employees would volunteer to make a costume and dress up in order to raise funds. Evans remembers that the first costume was made with pink duct tape. The program was fun and successful.
“My mindset is that we just have a really special and special community here,” says Evans. “It’s a real gift to be able to live here.
“But,” he adds, “if you want to have a brick and mortar store, you have to get the community involved.”
Each month of the year, Evans chooses a special cause to promote and fundraise.
The Daly Mansion was an easy choice, as Evans had served on the board. He scheduled an in-store event with “Mrs. Daly” on hand to visit people and hosted a “round to checkout” where customers can round up to the next dollar and donate change.
“We create an experience for people when they walk into the store,” says Evans. “We don’t want to look like a box store. “
“With 700 people a day passing through here,” says Evans, “there is such an opportunity for us to get the word out. Ace corporate also encourages trying to connect with your community through community service work. The CEO recently said, “Who is more helpful in the neighborhood than your health workers? “
It made him think. Evans said both of his parents died of lung cancer. He approached Marcus Daly Hospice last year when several of
Ace’s events have been put on hold due to Covid. He was also reviewing the store’s investment in providing disposable masks to their customers.
“People who wore masks in many ways began to symbolize selflessness,” Evans said. “This is also how I thought of Hospice. These people dedicate their entire lives to selfless care and acts of kindness. “
So the store matched the cost of the masks and donated that amount to Hospice.
Evans said the community’s commitment to supporting these local nonprofits continues to grow. He said customers donated nearly $ 6,000 for Colors of Cancer (for the cancer infusion center being built by Marcus Daly Hospital) during roundups, raffles and donations for the food they served. “We went a little further this year, and we did it for a whole month. “
Evans said they never had to complain about their seemingly endless campaigns.
“So many people don’t realize how some of these nonprofits are funded. It’s through us, through the community, ”says Evans. “We love to give these groups the opportunity to come here so that people can put a face with a name and see that there are real people running these nonprofits.”
Other groups or causes that have been or will be featured in the future are the Bitter Root Humane Association, Teacher Appreciation, Autism Awareness, SAFE, Bitterroot Youth Homes and Bitter Root Land Trust, to name a few. .
For the month of December, Evans Ace will focus on a new program, one that Nancy, the inventory specialist, has come up with. It is based on Clarence Oddbody, the famous angel from the holiday movie classic “It’s Wonderful Life” and one of Evans’ favorite movie characters. Between December 1 and December 24, for a minimum donation of $ 1.00 (or more), people can name their preferred healthcare worker. The name will go on a bell and the bells will be strung throughout the store. The names will then be drawn and five names will be drawn on Christmas Eve. These will be the winners of the Evans Ace Oddbody Awards for 2021 and the five winners will each receive a $ 50 gift card to Evans Ace Hardware. There will also be a bag sale on December 4 when healthcare workers can show their credentials to get 20% off. There will also be a “round-up” on the day of the Hospice’s annual Tree of Lights ceremony. All proceeds will go to Hospice.
Evans is excited about this latest promotion and can’t wait to see the community’s reaction. He’s pretty confident it’ll be popular just like the others, maybe even more.
“We connect our business, nonprofits and the community,” says Evans. “My community.”