Time for a Change

10 Jul

It's well on its way

Despite all the tales of woe coming from the retail sector, We have been on an upswing this summer. back in May I was contacted by a client for which I had designed a cashier counter a few years back [Thank God for repeat customers]. This time the project was bigger and more interesting.  The clients own a rather large [ two-story with elevator] sporting goods store in an affluent Philadelphia suburb. If one knows nothing about retail in Phila the one thing you should know is long-established retailers on our “Main Line” generally have a very loyal clientage among the baby boomer generation whom they have served for 25 years or more. Store loyalty is not the same in the succeeding generations who generally shop where fashion dictates and want nothing to do with the “places where my parents shop”. One issue I have learned well  is the importance of developing a new younger customer to assure your future success.

 As we age our purchasing habits change, a fact I see in clearly in myself. I am no longer the slave to fashion I was during my twenties, in fact by the time you reach your fifties you become more interested in shedding excess pocessions. I still [but less frequently] purchase necessities from my favorite retailers,but with a far more critical eye. Fashion might still have something to do with it, but comfort and quality[ and a closet full of three decades] out weighs the color du jour. This is not so among the young who will suffer for fashions sake and feel the need for personal expression by wearing the same thing that all their counterparts are wearing [ironic is it not?] but in youth appearance, peer acceptance and mating rituals take priority. As Maurice Chevalier once sang “I’m so glad I’m not young anymore” 

All of this ramble is leading to the  necessity for retailers to appeal to a younger customer while still servicing their older loyal group [a tricky path to tread] Most of my clients have been with me for 25 or more years and I have witnessed first hand the decline of purchases made by their aging clientele. Many customers have been loyal for years [myself included] while their children shop elsewhere.  What’s a shopkeeper to do?… Update! or die a slow agonizing death. Bring in younger lines [ but not so young as to offend the loyal crew] seek younger sales help with a fresh eye for style, hire a visual merchandiser to add excitement and  most important…  Renovate! for those who have survived this recession it’s time to update in order to infuse retail with new excitement and convey a positive attitude to your customers, both old and new.

The four-ways have to go

Out with that tired slatwall and those benches

Nothing works as well as a complete renovation, it shows your existing customer that you’re in this for the long haul and more importantly it attracts a new younger customer,who would  NEVER shop in a store where “the rents” shopped. This is exactly the reason my current clients are redoing their second floor shoe department.

Even "The Foot Locker" does it better

Clean, open and almost ready for product.

 The athletic wear and shoe business is ruthless these days, it’s rife with “big boxes” and big bucks to capture a young audience. BRAND, BRAND, BRAND, branding drives everything and the current youth market has been media fed since birth the importance of obtaining the “right” brand. I say, give em want they want! [in a new package] Utilize branded fixturing, from the manufacturers, obtain as much printed material and display aids as possible. Then create a slick  clean interior [ with 70s overtones] and contemporary technology and you will see the results. You may lose a few older customers [but death generally does that for us]  Nothing ever stays the same, especially in retail.Take a look at the old interior and a few very recent [today] photos of the renovation.The large header above is the concept drawing for this store.

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