Won't You Be My Neighbor?
National superstores fit themselves into the neighborhood formula
The future of retail is in the coziness and variety of neighborhoods
and colossal superstores are getting the idea.
Consumers like being able to get in and out easily and enjoy specialized
selection, variety and convenience, which neighborhood shopping districts
can provide, says Visual Merchandising & Store Displaymagazine.
National chains such as The Gap, Barnes & Noble and Starbucks already
discovered their niches in neighborhoods, moving next door to independent
specialty stores. Now retail giants, criticized by their independent competitors
for being impersonal and homogenous, are reinventing themselves to take
advantage of the trend.
Wal-Mart, for instance, is testing three stores about the same size as
traditional supermarkets, placing them in downtown shopping districts and
branding them "Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets."
Home Depot is opening smaller versions with limited selection to nudge
out the Ace Hardware and True Value stores that have ruled downtown districts
The retailers are counting on the idea that customers like to buy things
- Basic, cheap with minimal customer service.
- Highly specialized "dreams" accompanied by superior treatment.
The stores in the "unclear middle," says the magazine, may
not survive in the more polarized world of retail.
by Stacey King
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.