One-Stop Shops

Even before plans were revealed to turn the I-93 Liquor stores into full-service entertainment centers, our writer was thinking about this trend

Illustration by Brad Fitzpatrick

In this uncertain economy, market research analysts and encyclopedia salesmen like myself recommend innovative strategies for retailers — like staying open longer. (Just kidding.) The key: Diversify! Drugstore chains have caught on. They’re blossoming out with sushi bars (and delectables including octopus salad). They’ve got it right. Soon you won’t have to go to one place for your beef jerky and another for your dry cleaning. I’m looking forward to when I can say to Sweetie Pie, “While you’re at Staples, pick me up some arch supports and a sticky bun.”

Call me a visionary, but you’re about to see signs like “Lester’s Tire Warehouse, 20 percent off baby powder, frying pans, cucumbers and designer jeans!” We on-the-go shoppers will come to expect wrinkle creams, underwear and toasters at the northbound I-93 State Liquor Store. Retail diversity means one-stop shopping. You want a pizza parlor where you can pick up steel-toed work boots, browse the family planning product display and get your car keys duplicated while you’re waiting.

Between us, I’m about to launch Fred’s Party Favors, Window Fans, Jock Straps and Wealth Management LLC. But there’s an art to this retail evolvement. You don’t just start on Monday selling support hose at your bakery and then on Tuesday expand into bird feeders. No. According to my studies of buyer behavior, to succeed you have to first alter your customer’s expectations. The key here is patience.

You start by sticking just one pair of support hose in the showcase alongside the cornbread muffins. This is the adjustment period. Allow the customer time to feel comfortable with the newcomer.

"You start by sticking a pair of support hose in the showcase alongside the cornbread muffins."

Next, you put a bird feeder on the counter among the Kaiser rolls. You’ll see quizzical expressions, but be patient. Soon they’re checking the price tag. Then, alongside the bird feeder, you put a few tubes of hair styling gel. Do you see what’s going on here? You now have targeted a specific market — the support hose/cornbread muffin/bird feeder/ Kaiser roll/styling gel crowd.

This is step one of your positioning strategy. Then comes step two. You determine what segment of your customer mix still is missing. Senior citizens! So you add ear horns and metal detectors.

Now you stock women’s shoes. The average woman prepares for every upcoming event in her life, including dental appointments, by buying new shoes. Then, voilà! Yours is now a destination store.    

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