Off the charts

Marc Barnes, Michael Greene, July 9, 2001

How some retailers make up their minds in choosing a new store location is very "exciting." Oy! Vey! My favorite story is the one told me by an executive friend of mine who was with a chain of sports supply emporiums who sold everything from boxing gloves to sweatshirts to treadmills to tennis short-shorts.

His crew took the old-timer chairman of the board out to view a location in the wilds of suburbia, and as they docked on a bare stretch of farmland out came the elevation placards, signage, square footage charts, plus all the demographics that go into making such a major decision.

"Well," the search committee honcho stepped forward bravely and asked, "how do you like the location, Mr. McGonigle?"

"The charts are great, but I don't like the look."

"The look, sir? It's only a span of endless farmland now. Just imagine the finished product packed with cars in the parking fields! It's great stuff, sir. And right off the expressway, too."

"Sorry, kid," the octogenarian continued. "It just doesn't hit me. Please keep on trying. Sooner or later it will grab my intuition."

And then there was Case B … another side of the coin.

"Here we are, Mr. Rasputin, it's a winner! Your men's clothing line and accessories will knock them dead here. What did you think of the elevation drawings, demographic support and the look of the new logo and building?"

"It was okay, kid. Your crew did a wonderful job on the presentation, but it's all parking space and just not enough display and warehousing."

"No problem. We'll re-balance the shtick. However, did you know that because of our probability of joining in the project (if I might say so, sir), Massey's, Seers, MacDonalds and Toys Is Us are already in the same bag?"

"They are? Sign us up and don't worry about the display shortfall. It's the companies you keep that make the difference. Let's get going so we can get the news out with the quarterly report!"

But then there's the State of Florida, where the mamas and papas reign supreme. These gals and guys run a completely different choice-of-course. The winners there in the sun bet their expansion monies on knowing — and I mean knowing — the flavor of their customer. Like, if it's food going into someone's stomach it had better be sugar- and nut-free. If it's shmattehs to choose, it had better have places to sit down and take one's shoes off. If it's big-ticket stuff, more than one visit is par for the course.

Intelligent information signage is a must and language versatility of the salesperson is an absolute. And, talking about signage, you can't forget directions to clean, easily accessible restrooms in the sales section — not in a back room storage area. Plus other signs like: "If you're not happy with your purchase please return it for full credit" and "When you are happy please recommend your friends."

Paying attention to the little things for the little gals and guys is a lot tougher to pull off (and maintain) than bricks, cement and parking fields. Thanks, again, for listening.

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See the May 2017 issue of Home & Textiles Today. In this issue, we discuss our annual Market Basket survey, which finds higher prices and more polyester at leading retailers. See details!