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Retailers that are doing it right - and thriving as a result.

I recently read this Natural Foods Merchandiser article on how four different retailers are managing to not only survive, but thrive, in a challenging economy. To me, it boiled down to three distinct strategies: •    Variety in price points •    Variety in selection •    Manage greed Tough economy aside, all of these business tactics bode well for consumers as well as independent businesses like Pacific Shaving that are attempting to bring new ideas and improved products to market. My thoughts on these three approaches and why they work: Variety in price points: From my experience, when retailers see diminishing sales in a category, the knee-jerk reaction is that it’s got to be the price. Lower it. Fast. I don’t think it’s that simple. Retailers like City Market/Onion City Co-op realize that their shoppers cross all lines of spending across the value sale-to-quality product spectrum. Even Whole Foods understands that people are more likely to splurge on some items if they feel they are able to get others at a discount. This is not to put the full burden of selling on the retailer. Their role in the supply chain is distribution. It is the brand/marketer’s job to do the heavy lifting and demonstrate to the right consumer why the right product is worth paying more for. This isn’t just using price as proof of efficacy – it’s the opposite.] Variety in selection: This one is really easy: If a retailer doesn’t offer variety, it’s a matter of time until its customers will find another, more exciting store to shop in. Native Roots Market co-owner Matt Runkle nailed it when he said, “I kicked out Kettle Chips completely, except for the party-size salted chips, because if you can find them everywhere, they’re not going to bring someone here. And worse, customers will go to Target, see it for a $1.50 less, and be like, ‘Wow, Native Roots is expensive!’” Personally, nothing frustrates me more than seeing a store that feels like it needs to carry three full shelves of Edge or Fusion shaving cream and allocates only six inches of space (or less) for brands like Pacific Shaving Company. Argh. [caption id="attachment_629" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Yawn..."][/caption] Taking that idea to a whole different level is Grocery Outlet Bargain Market stores, a retailer that sells close-outs at a discounted price. As a result, their selection is always changing. Hard work for the buyer, but an awesome treasure hunt for the shopper at every visit. Plus, there’s the pressure of ‘better stock up if you find a product you love – who knows if they will carry it again!’ Manage greed Sunflower Markets was one of the retailers that really seemed to get the idea that to make retail work, the whole supply chain needs to act as a unified front – not with competing interests and all looking to squeeze as much margin as possible out of every register ring. Kudos to Sunflower for realizing sometimes it is in all of our best interest to sharpen our own pencils. If no one budges, it ultimately comes at the expense of the independent manufacturers, or the consumers. And both will ultimately move on. Overall, it’s nice to see these trend-forward retailers demonstrating that customer-centric business sense and transparency can be drivers of growth within their stores. They deserve it. -Stan

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