Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why the "General Store" Died

Maybe it's generational.

A few decades ago the old fashioned general store was replaced by specialty stores. These specialty stores often found a home inside a shopping plaza or shopping mall which became the new version of the "general store".

I also remember 20 years ago moving to Michigan with my young family and being amazed to find Meijer's Thrifty Acres. Now known simply as Meijer, they were the first modern superstore version of the "general store" where you could buy grapefruit, a garden hose and school supplies and pay for it all at once at the checkout.

Walmart revamped most of their stores to include the grocery business and became superstores too.


This is a warning, DO NOT FOLLOW in the footsteps of Walmart. You will lose.

Instead of trying to be all things to all people, focus on pleasing one group of people.

Here's another example of how that works from Andy Sernovitz:

I just stayed in a hotel that didn't have a gym -- but they gave guests a free pass to the full-service gym a block away.

I was annoyed, because I didn't want to take the time to find the place. I'd rather just go downstairs, hop on a bike, and be back in my room as fast as possible. To me, it was a real inconvenience.

But the people I was traveling with were thrilled. They loved the full-service gym, classes, pool, and tons of exercise equipment. For them, it was far better than any hotel gym could possibly be.

What's the right answer? Know your customers. Study them, ask them, and give them what thrills them.

What's the wrong answer? Trying to please everyone. That's how a business ends up bland, boring, and stretched way too thin.

Thrilling your core market is better than sort of making everyone sort of satisfied.

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