07 June 2009

Sunday special: Retailing lessons

Despite the gloomy economic picture at the national level, retailers of gifts and home furnishings across the country are finding opportunities at the local level.
The Sofa Company opened its newest store (its fourth) in Pasadena, Calif. The store carries ready-made furnishings but also builds sofas to order in its own factory. My observation: Offer customized product. Customers here choose the fabric, frame and style. This retailer is providing a product that is not available anywhere else.
World of Décor, a chain of eight stores selling furniture and decorative accessories based in Orlando, opened a store in Orange City, Fla. World of Décor opened there because the population is growing and there was a lack of furniture stores, an executive said. This retailer creates a sense of urgency--the store engages in scheduled markdowns, reducing prices in stages until a product sells (an approach the company calls “you snooze, you lose.” My observations: First, find under-served markets. Second, give shoppers reasons to return to your store frequently.
In Roswell, N.M., Skeen Furniture Warehouse opened a 46,000-square-foot store, which is more than three times as large as the previous one. (The retailer also operates stores in Clovis and Alamogordo.) In published reports, company president David Skeen said he felt it was the right time to expand, based on customer feedback and economic conditions (the local economy is based on oil and agriculture). My observation: Listen to shoppers’ opinions, watch their spending habits, then make a decision. This retailer says shoppers have responded well to his stores in recent years.
Finally, reports from Atlanta are that Crate & Barrel is looking to open a CB2 store in the city. CB2 targets a younger consumer whose tastes run towards contemporary styles. My observations: First, go after demographic niches, like urban-dwelling 20-somethings. Second, take your time. This retailer is famously cautious and extremely deliberate in its expansion plans.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Custom Search