I went around to local businesses while organizing for Small Business Saturday. In every store, I found something I didn’t realize that they carried. Every single store. I’m not making that up!
I knew my favorite women’s shop had kid’s clothes, too, but I didn’t know about the new line of watches or the plush stuffed animals for kids. The sewing center has adult coloring books. The Radio Shack (yes, we still have one) has barbecue spices and KitchenAid mixers. The kitchen shop has kids’ books and scientific toys. Who knew?
The T-shirt shop has added leggings and hats and gloves. The refunked furniture (painted and refurbished in a fun style) store has kitchen collectibles, the kind of old glass stuff you can still use. The shoe store has Under Armor hoodies that made my 22 year old nephew excited to shop local. The furniture and decor place has sunglasses and runners’ belts and clothes. The cosmetics place has the artistic silver jewelry her husband makes but also has soaps and candles and gifts.
My point is this: retail stores in small towns are branching out.
And it’s not just my town. As I visit other towns, I’m seeing the same trend. Rural stores are carrying a more diverse selection of merchandise. It’s long been true that rural stores tend to be more generalists than specialists because we have a smaller customer base to draw from. Now we’re seeing a subtle shift to diversifying into entirely new areas.
Have you seen this in your town? Or are you maybe doing this in your own store?
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Michelle Kiley says
I think the key is finding complimentary, unique products that engage in increased social marketing (selling the lifestyle) as it relates to a company’s larger ticket items.
Becky McCray says
Michelle, that’s a great way to look at which products to diversify into.
Reader Nora Nikkel wrote in with her own experiences:
“We started 10 years ago with only antique furniture. At that time we had no other stores–only real estate & Insurances offices (lots of those) and one grocery store in town.. We quickly realized that people needed more than that. We now carry gourmet foods, fashion (jewelry, clothes, scarves, hats, gloves handbags & wallets, & readers and sunglasses). We also carry books, candy, kitchen goods ,sofas, chairs and all kinds of home décor. We are very happy with our expansion and has been good for our customers. We are only 20 minutes from a city, but people shop in our town because they do not want to fight the traffic and we have ample parking. We have also opened a tea room attached to our store and that brings women in to eat and shop. It has worked out well.
We now have a Walmart an d five antique stores on Main Street so we are a destination.