Time Magazine‘s most recent cover focused on 10 Ideas That Are Changing the World. Two of the top 10 focused on retail (one directly with the idea of The Survival Store and the other about Recycling the Suburbs which owes the rebirth of what a surburb is to the demise of retail, among other things).
But back to The Survival Store. The concept here is that retail is boring. Which it is. I’ve written often about the sameness of retail and that we’re going to go through a retail revolution as a result. The Survival store is a whole new kind of store.
According to the article, “Simon Graj, CEO of Graj Gustavsen and a respected retail consultant, is pushing a concept he smartly brands the ‘survival store.’ Graj envisions a place where you can get the goods you need — low-cost food, clothing built to last a few winters, a bike to substitute for the new car you can’t afford — while offering experiences that help you cope during these difficult times. Why couldn’t you float from the food department to the living-and-leisure department, where you could meditate with a local Yogi? Or to the education department, where experts could offer sensible financial advice? ‘Helping people go fearlessly into the future — and have fun doing it — is the idea,’ Graj says. Some retailers are already catching on. French-based retailer Carrefour, for example, has built ‘hypermarkets’ where consumers can buy food and have their computers fixed.”
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Time magazine is confusing the future of retailing with a down economy.
The article talks about this intersection of a) an interesting and unique retail experience with b) saving money. It creates a market for itself, simply because everyone is in the same financial boat and that’s why they’re going to shop at The Survival Store.
That’s just not true. I think we’re going to see retail continue to diverge into two very directions:
1. The continued expansion of SuperStores and their offerings, mainly in suburban and rural markets
Our supermarket mentality is not going to go away. We still want the selection and the great prices, all in one place. The big idea really is about this new type of “supermarket,” where you can buy provisions, advice, and have different types of experiences, all in one place. It’s about being able to purchase the things you need for your physical, emotional and intellectual “survival.”
We’ve already started to see supermarkets blend with mass-market retailing (Target SuperStore and Wal-Mart SuperCenter) and include everything from dry cleaners to coffee houses to opticians, pharmacies and more.
2. The contraction of chain stores, mainly in urban areas
The second shift is going to be about returning to more unique, more independent retailers. It’s about creating Main Street experiences where shopkeepers know your name. It’s a place where the shopping experience is part of everyday living – where the stores are as unique as the people who live in the neighborhood. Think European model, where you buy your bread at a bakery, your meat at a butcher, and your fruits and vegetables at a well, a fruits and vegetables stand. Streets will combine not only unique retailers and restaurants, but experiences like a small gym, yoga studio, tea house, art studio and more. Main Street will be a gathering place for the community. A place where experiences intersect with places to buy things.