Saturday, March 3, 2012

The importance of being retail.

Years ago there was a giant fruit stand on the West Side, on Broadway between 74th and 75th that was the apotheosis of cantaloupes, apples and the like. In those days, the late 70s and early 80s, there were fruit stands every couple of blocks in Manhattan but nevertheless, Fairway was worth the trip. The fruit was fresher, bigger, better and there was virtually always something, some kind of delicacy you'd never seen before.

Over the years that single Fairway grew and grew. It expanded from its fruity roots to include fish, deli, a butcher, breads, cheeses, olives and grocery. Fairway also opened up in a variety of different city locations. They opened a big store in Harlem on 12th Avenue and 129th Street, they opened in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Douglaston, Queens and even in Stamford, Connecticut. Last summer they opened in my neck of the wood, the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

There's something about a great market that excites me. In a great market they know many of the things great clients and great agency people know. They know how to display their wares attractively, they know how to innovate, they know how to create signage. They know, most of all, how to make shopping fun, convenient and even exciting.

I worked at Bloomingdale's in their advertising department when it was widely considered the most exciting and important store in the world. Those attributes that I listed above applied to Bloomies as well. I've also been to two of the great Bazaars of the world, Khan El Khalili in Cairo and Kapalıçarşı, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. You get the same rush from those places, as you do from all the various Apple Stores that dot our landscape.

It's stunning to me that most e-commerce sites are anti-septic while most successful retailers are anything but.

I've often thought that the best way to see if a creative is worth hiring is to take a walk with them through a grocery store. If they're excited about products, display and marketing they'll likely be excited about doing interesting work. If they're not energized by the selling of stuff, thank them very much for their time and keep looking for someone who is.

Finally, and the precipitant for this post was this sign I just saw in Fairway. "Our Nuts Are Now Alphabetized."

1 comment:

Red Red said...

Good insight George. I share your passion for great markets and bazaars.