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The good old days

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, November 20, 2000

In this era of awesomely rapid change, it is refreshing to see something that harks back to the good old days. And what is even more significant is that some of what the good old days produced in terms of results is producing the same kind of results today.

What comes to mind specifically is the promotional activity that is taking place as Boscov's launched its second store in the Albany, NY, market.

Here is a department store chain with more than 30 stores, located out of the mainstream of virtually everything in Reading, PA, and doing what department stores did eons ago. They essentially are the community's retailer.

They don't approach the marketplace with stores as branches. They are full-time players in the community. They believe in total immersion, being involved with community efforts.

Think auditoriums. What? These are used for sale events, special happenings and again for things that bring the community together. Who in this day and age would allocate square footage to a "frivolous" activity like auditorium events?

In this era of cost cutting, pretending to be consumer-centric (the newest buzz word with troubled retailers), pledging to improve customer service, how many retailers actually become a part of the communities where they hope to thrive?

Just this month, the company celebrated the opening of its second store in the Albany market with a massive advertising blitz in the local paper, reminiscent of years gone by.

They don't have an inner circle of special high-roller customers who get privileges for all they buy.

Instead, they bring in celebrities-yes, a lot are of them are of the same age group as many of their customers, but they pull in the crowds. They have contests, special events and a corny but headline-grabbing ribbon cutting ceremony, with the ribbon made of $100 bills. Each $100 bill goes to a local charity.

And how do they communicate all this to the new constituency? One way is through a massive, high-impact newspaper blitz of some 100 pages with color advertising in ROP and special sections in the local paper. Talk about market dominance. No other retailer had a chance on the weekends Boscov's unleashed its ad force.

And once the store is up and running, the promotional activity will not disappear.

And since its first store in the Albany area is fairly new, and the company followed with a second unit, somehow the technique works.

It could be an instance of everything old is new again.

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