Home Depot, like its counterpart Lowe’s and every other marketer, is eager to attract a new (younger) kind of customer. But despite those efforts it’s not a brand that screams counter culture. Generally speaking, the store isn’t top of mind for cool young people, who spend their time at Apartment Depot not fixing anything. But when those cool young people head down to Burning Man, the home improvement chain is apparently a hot spot for them.
It makes sense–Burning Man provides no shelter or structures, and many of the things you need to live in the desert for a week with a bunch of other hippies/tech company CEOs/probably Shia LaBeouf can be obtained affordably at Home Depot. That’s something the chain itself touts with a handy bit of brand content devoted to the annual rumpus, which gets underway this year on August 30.
The Depot’s Built From Scratch blog features an overview of the festival and the chain’s unlikely role therein. “On their way out to the desert, people will stop in our stores in Reno, Carson City and a few near Black Rock Desert,” says Gregory Hart, a South Reno store manager in the blog post. The site also features an infographic to explain what Burners who visit the stores like to pick up. Stores in Nevada import extra flourescent/glow-in-the-dark spray paint to address the increased demand (apparently the rest of the year, that stuff doesn’t fly off the shelves), while sales of items like dust masks (521%), rubber bands (2.744%), and rebar (482%) spike by orders of magnitude. The Venn diagram of people who love Burning Man and Home Depot equally may be very small (it may only include Grover Norquist), but for a week in the desert, the home improvement chain is all about the day-glo paint and dust masks.