Retail Observer

November 2014

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM NOVEMBER 2014 40 Elly Valas Retail Views Elly Valas is the Marketing Services Director for Nationwide Marketing Group. She can be reached at or at 303-316-7569. Visit her website at RO I love theater. I'm almost always game to go see a small community production or anything playing at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I never miss a chance to go to an opera—I'm a regular at Opera Colorado and have been to operas in Santa Fe and Central City; at the Met in New York and once even the Volksoper in Vienna. For the most part, there are only a few recurring themes. Somewhere in the plot there's conflict and ultimately, resolution. Endings can be happy or unhappy but the audience rarely is left hanging. Still, there are only a few kinds of stories told on stage and in theater. With so few stories to tell, the difference between average and great theater is in the production. There was a time when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey was circus. We sat mesmerized at the three rings, trapeze artists, elephants, dancing bears, lion tamers and an elegantly-dressed ringmaster. And then along came Cirque de Soleil that turned circus into amazing theater. I can find many plays—classics or current hits—onstage in high school productions, in London and on Broadway. Like your customers, neither the most or the least expensive are always the best bets. I've had lots of fun at high school productions of classic musicals and romantic comedies; a three-day rainy theater weekend in London was a near-bust because of the expensive dingy hotel, bad seats at two performances and poor acoustics at the third. But the Denver performance of Pippin—on its first tour off Broadway—was memorable and spectacular. The plot was thin— but the staging, costumes, lighting, music, dancing and acrobatics were incredible. The only "name" star was 63-year-old Lucie Arnaz whose parents were far bigger than she is. But it was entertainment at its best. Retail is another kind of theater—as retail consultant Anne Obarski says, "Retail Business is Show Business." The "conflict" is the consumer's need or desire to make a purchase and the myriad of choices they have in making that buy. The "resolution" comes when they find the right product, at the right price, with the right services. Your story isn't much different from your competitors'… you buy merchandise to sell to customers who have a need for your product. The production—the customer experience—is what makes your story compelling. Does your "play bill" tell a narrative that brings prospects into your "theater"? Can those prospects find you on the web? Are others telling their friends about your terrific "production"? Do your prospects have a clear picture of what you offer just as musical lovers know what they get from an Andrew Lloyd Webber production (Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Evita)? How's your "production" compared to your competitors? Is your "theater" well located in the "theater district"? Do you wow your prospects with your "staging" your store front, display, point-of- purchase materials and selection? Do your "actors" fully engage with your customers? Do they rehearse so that they know their "lines" cold? Are they well-trained career professionals or high school amateurs? There are so many ways to entertain—and 'edutain'—your customers in theater-like performances. Debbie Schaeffer from New Jersey based Mrs. Gs, imitates TV's Top Chef with her annual competition between the best chefs in her area. Denver's BAC Appliance hosts several Beer, Brats and BBQ events. Customers line up to meet local sports or media heroes. Give pony rides in your parking lot during your warehouse or truckload sales. Invite a local gymnastics team to perform in your store during your private sale. Host an evening award event for high school winning teams and athletes at the end of the school year. In today's complicated, multi-faceted retail environment, you have to differentiate your business. You have to have more than a great selection, hot prices and informative associates. If your "production" adds value to everything else, you'll be the show to see. Retail business is show business. RETAIL BUSINESS IS SHOW BUSINESS!

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