I was disheartened to hear that many Nordstrom stores are doing away with a signature element of their store experience – the live piano player. You can read the full account here.
While it seems that the piano players and the Sinatra-esque music they play are becoming increasing irrelevant to the audience shopping there, the sense of class and sophistication they brought was worth it in the homogenous “Macy’s as department store format” world we live in.
I guess I can’t say I blame them. After all, times change (and so do people).
But I can’t help but think of those store experiences that morph with the times while still retaining the essence of their brand.
The San Francisco Bloomingdale’s is beyond gorgeous with a rich, sophisticated look that still retains a sense of modernism – it’s altogether different than the other Bloomingdales but the update is fantastic. But the old Neiman-Marcus in San Francisco still has its Rotunda restaurant, which is still relevant (and jam-packed with shoppers) after all these years. Even Bergdorf-Goodman in New York still retains its charm while catering to a modern client.
Maybe I’m just getting older and am turning into one of those people that are missing the simpler times (like a live piano player vs. piped-in music overhead). Geez, am I really becoming my father already?
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Sometimes you have to take a good hard look in the mirror and determine if your store needs a little updating. Updating can run the gamut from a little botox to a full-on facelift (spoken like a true Angeleno, huh?).
It always seems that some of my favorite restaurants start as little, cozy places with a handful of tables. And then they get popular, and too busy and decide to expand. Too often they lose the intimacy and charm of the original incarnation of the concept.
If you’re going to change, make sure you’re changing to achieve a goal versus just changing because you feel you have to. Make sure you’re changing to update your store to make it more relevant to the customer who is shopping there, or the customer you’d like to attract. Change because the front of your store looks like you’re dressed for the ’70’s when the rest of the stores on the block are dressing for the 2000’s.
The key is to be able to see the forest through the trees. Is your
music right and relevant to your customer base? Is the merchandise
relevant? Does the lighting reflect what you’re trying to achieve?
If you tread lightly, and make these decisions with intellectual honesty and with clear business goals in mind, you will be successful in achieving those goals.