Breakout Retail Award winners revelead
Retailing Today sister publication Chain Store age announced the winners of its first annual Breakout Retailer Awards, which honors emerging retail/restaurant concepts that are innovative in their segment and show strong potential for growth.
Selected by the editorial board of Chain Store Age, the winning lineup include a hardgoods retailer with a new twist on games, a specialty merchant whose stores combine the best of online and offline shopping, a farmer’s market-styled grocer with mass appeal, and a fast-casual restaurant operator that’s bringing food customization to a new level.
“Retailers have to go the extra mile to stand out and succeed in today’s disrupted marketplace,” said Marianne Wilson, editor-in-chief, Chain Store Age. “In their own unique way, each of the winning brands has done just that. While the concepts are widely diverse, they are alike in their ability to engage and delight shoppers, whether it’s online, in store or both.”
Here are the winners (in alphabetical order):
Fabletics: Co-founded by actress Kate Hudson, Fabletics is positioned in the white-hot “athleisure” market, with stylish activewear that works in the gym, yoga studio — and beyond. After establishing and honing its brand online, the retailer has expanded to the physical space with stores that blend the best of both worlds.
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market: A small grocer with big ambitions, Fresh Thyme combines the spirit of a farmers market with the convenience of a neighborhood store. The fast-growing chain specializes in fresh and organic foods at value prices in a fun, easy-to-shop environment.
Marbles: The Brain Store: Specializing in games, puzzles, books and software that stimulate the brain and challenge all ages, Marbles offers a dynamic, hands-on shopping experience that allows customers to try out product and watch how-to-play videos.
PizzaRev: A build-your-own fast casual concept, PizzaRev allows customers to customize their own pizza, selecting everything from crust to sauce to more than 30 artisanal toppings, with everything on display. Pizza is cooked and delivered to the table in just three minutes.
The winning companies will be honored at Chain Store Age’s annual SPECS Conference (March 13-15, 2016, at the Hilton Anatole, Dallas). For more information about SPECS and to register, click here.
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Retail: Staying in sync without sinking
Transition versus transformation. Evolution versus revolution. These strategies inherently plague the retail sector as companies decide what to do next to stay ahead of the curve.
As a retail professional for more than 35 years, too often I see companies forget to examine the current business model and understand whether or not it operates effectively. Basic concepts of product relevancy, store conditions, customer service and employee engagement and retention are essential in all successful retail businesses. Yet, increasingly these concepts are left at the doorstep as retailers try to outthink themselves in reinvention. Most times retailers leave their core consumer behind by forgetting the formula that brought them success in the first place.
For example, neglect of these basic concepts for a prolonged period of time ultimately led to RadioShack’s demise. Store conditions had deteriorated, products had become irrelevant — the move to a national brand selling strategy versus a proprietary, private-label selling assortment — employees had become apathetic and its biggest asset, customer service — remember, “You have questions, we have answers”? — became nonexistent. All of these factors left the customer saying, “What is RadioShack?”
The formula for success in retail has never and will never change. Aesthetics and technology most certainly have; however, the true testament to a strong retail brand always follows the same footprint.
Ultimately, the right locations, the optimal product mix, having those products in-stock and a passionate and knowledgeable customer service team will foster the ideal employee and customer experience — one that inspires all parties to have a vested interest in the retail brand's success.
Michael S. De Fazio is an independent retail consultant with more than 35 years in retailing, and experience in multiple leadership roles in store operations and store design, including DVP store concepts for Walgreens.
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First Look: Starbucks does Vegas — with stadium seating
Starbucks is giving customers a front row seat on the famed Las Vegas Strip.
The coffee giant has opened a 3,200-sq.-ft. location in Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s Casino complex. The store is unusual in that, instead of the typical tables with chairs, it offers theatrical stadium seating (for 30 to 40 people) in the center of the store and surrounding bench seating.
“This is a unique seating experience tailored to the idea of theater,” said Starbucks store designer Erich Mele. “Customers can enjoy the tiered spaces on either side of the grandstand seating, which organizes the space architecturally while providing great views to the theater of our coffee bar or to that of the bazaar beyond.”
The store features a warm color palate and architectural elements made from walnut wood, black steel, concrete and glass. Curated artwork and images and video projected on a 150-square-foot movie screen tell the story of Starbucks coffee from bean to cup. Even the grandstand seating feature was inspired by the terraces found in many of coffee-growing landscapes.
EXTERIOR: In contrast with the relaxed look of the interior, the exterior features a modern, undulating covering in vivid colors. After nightfall, the design element comes alive with white flashes of light choreographed to modern pop music during the Grand Bazaar’s nightly light show.
“Las Vegas brings in people from all over the world who are eager for theatrical experiences,” Mele said. “Here they can sit back and enjoy the activity both inside and outside the café while being entertained through the lens of coffee."
It is great idea and very new.