From The Co-Founders


Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts

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In Pursuit of the Wily Customer

photo: Greg Gilbert/Seattle Times

Recently we read of a "bookshop on wheels" launched by a college English instructor. While certainly not the first retail variation on a food truck, this one has gained praise for its authenticity. 

"What’s most surprising when you walk into Blue Kettle Books for the first time is how cozy and, well, bookstore-ish the tiny space feels."*

Monica LeMoine has converted a hotel shuttle bus into a tiny bookstore, able to hold a highly curated selection of 800 books.

But what really is the driving motivation behind this? "Providing a frictionless entry point to the joy of reading," says LeMoine.

👀 Not a "frictionless transaction," as e-commerce giants have focused on. A "frictionless entry point to the joy of reading."  

  • The Blue Kettle Bookshop has been built to go to "events and locations that are attended by people who don’t regularly visit bookstores."
  • It is scheduled to appear at family-friendly events all summer long: music festivals, farmers markets, street fairs, even the occasional brewing company. 

This startup retailer is not waiting to be discovered by customers. She's taking her shop TO the customer. And she realizes that is not only online or at the mall. Have wheels, will travel!

Poses some interesting questions, doesn't it? From Main Street to malls, in the cloud, on social media, or the meta verse, the "migratory habits" of the customers continue to change. 

  • How and where will you best be able to connect with your customers?
  • Dare you just wait for them to come to you?
  • Or, is it time to meet them at least halfway?

"Location. Location. Location" is more of a moving target for retailers than ever before! 
"Newest and smallest bookstore will drive to you," Paul Constant, Seattle Times, May 12, 2022. 

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