Our Thanksgiving visit to Huntersville, NC shows that micro-urban growth is in full swing. The area has scores of beautifully landscaped housing complexes, giant shopping malls, and restaurants aplenty.
We are staying at the brand new Sleep Inn for the princely sum of $72/night. It has large, comfortable rooms and has nicely landscaped grounds with a small lake. Almost every where we look, we see signs of prosperity.
In the midst of all this success, there are signs that the laws of economics have not been repealed. Some relatively new restaurants and stores have closed after only a few months of operation, while some ratty looking eateries and convenience stores do a booming business.
In this area, Target, Lowes Foods, and BJ’s occupy the top end of the retail food chain. Their enormous stores encourage bulk shopping expeditions. There is a wonderful sense of satisfaction when you fill the entire back of your van or pickup with lowest-priced products from any of these stores. These are retailers to go to for purchasing commodity products.
On the other hand, I found some small retailers who have been doing very well for many years and they sell non-essential or specialty products that would seem to offer only a slight chance of success. Since I have a great interest in micro-business success stories, I spent some time talking with them to see if they had some characteristics in common.
It will be no surprise to most of you that all of the prosperous stores provide an outstanding customer experience. Even when they include commodity products in their merchandise mix, their level of customer satisfaction allows them to charge premium prices. I had several enjoyable shopping experiences and will share them in succeeding posts.
It would appear from my small survey, that large retailers do not stop small retailers with a unique value proposition and a good grasp of customer needs. Every one of the retailers I visited had figured out what their customers needed and wanted and were doing a really good job of meeting those needs.
In my next few posts, I will share the inside stories of these small businesses and what they are doing that makes customers buy from them.