I recently stepped inside a popular clothing and accessories retailer in Florida that provides the latest in fashion and great prices for the whole family. Corporate operations are in San Francisco and San Bruno, California. Their largest stores are its flagship stores, located in New York City, the Mall of America, Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco. This particular re-tailer has grown in popularity as well as profit since it’s inception in the 80’s. It’s stores offers something for everyone and every age! But, what keeps this retailer or any retailer on top…great prices, quality goods, fabulous displays, awesome advertisements, coupons, sales, excellent customer service, etc.? And, what happens when one of these starts to wane? Will customers notice? Yes, they will because, I most definitely did. Upon entry to one of their retail stores, I wondered if I had walked in on a “going out of business sale,” primarily due to the fact that all their clothes and merchandise were all over the floors, falling off tables and racks, as if a dump truck had backed in and dumped all the merchandise on the floor and drove over the clothes on the way out! But, if there had been a sale going on, where were all the customers? Or, had I walked in to the “ghost town of fashion” that day? Where had all the sales staff gone? Shelving was dirty, clothing was strewn everywhere and hangers were on the floors. No smiling sales people to greet me. There was no one in the store. Had they become zombie victims and left to go in search of their next meal? And where were all the customers? Just me and the sound of some popular “boy band music” being piped in through speakers were the only signs of life that day….. and then I saw them, a customer and an employee. “Whew,” thank goodness! I was beginning to think I would need to find a “ghost horse” to get the heck out of Dodge after my creepy shopping experience. For a brief moment, I looked around for cameras and waited for news people to jump out and tell me I was on some fashion celebrity show and tell me it was all a joke, but that didn’t happen. I was so dismayed by the appearance of the store, angry at management for allowing it to look that way and so distracted by what I saw, it made me not want to return. Do you think this store cares? I think if they knew, or at least those up in the “high towers of management” knew, they would care, because the growth and stability of a retailer is based on not just a new customer but it’s repeat customers! For me, will I return or attribute my bad shopping experience to the fact that they were just having an “off day”? Maybe I will, but odds are….I won’t. As I scurried toward the the door, I thought I saw some sage brush sweep past me. As I quickly reached for the door, an old man motioned to me, bidding me good bye as he tipped his worn weathered cowboy hat, clicked his heels together that jingled from the sound of his spurs on his dusty brown boots, waved goodbye and grinned a crooked grin, saying, “Come back to see us soon!”. Then I heard a horse whinny in the distance. Had I been dreaming? Maybe that store had become a “ghost store.” I wasn’t staying around to find out! I wanted to return to the land of the living! I ran out of there fast!
Note to Retailers OLD and NEW: Yes, people do judge a book by it’s cover and if that book does not make the reader want to open it, then you may want to do a “re write!” Clean up your store and show customers you care. Getting lax and assuming the customer will be there to keep your profits up won’t always happen. Keep things fresh, new, clean and appealing to the customer. Dust off those cobwebs and keep your stores looking like new always. If you care, so will your customers. Give them a great shopping experience so they will want to return again and again! And get rid of “Old Crusty!” He frightens the customers……and his horse too!