The more things change, the more things stay the same. Some companies change to increase operational efficiency. Some companies change to please Wall Street. And some companies changes because the world is changing.
Take Starbucks. They were the darling of Wall Street with a loyal following. But in the quest to please Wall Street, they put in automatic espresso machines. The opened stores across the street from one another. They started selling music and games and other novelties that had nothing to do with their core concept. They became so ubiquitous that a backlash ensued, damaging their brand.
Back comes Howard Schultz, the former CEO of the company to save the day. And now they’re starting to think forward again. The Seattle Times recently confirmed that Starbucks is changing the name on one of their Seattle stores to 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea in order to appeal to consumers as a neighborhood coffee house. They’ll offer up live music and poetry readings as well.
I’m a big believer in Main Street retail. In the importance of unique retail concepts that fuel community sustainability and growth. I recently heard a statistic that over 90% of retail is NOT corporate retail, it’s the independent, entrepreneurial stores that make up the fabric of our national retail landscape.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Your independence is your biggest asset.
America is really tired of chains. Of the same stores in the same malls, with the same cookie-cutter experiences everywhere. Why do I want to wear the same shirt you’re wearing (how embarrassing when we pass each other on the street). That says I’m a clone, not an individual.
Americans want to shop on Main Street. They want to have unique experiences and want to buy unique merchandise that has some relevancy to them. They want to grab lunch at a little cafe next to your store.
It’s the merchandise and store experience that’s going to bring them in. So what are you doing to create your own unique retail experience that’s different from the national retailers out there?
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