Creating THEATRE in your market


There’s a lot of panic about online sales eroding away local retail sales – there is no doubt that the way customers buy is changing.

These days, people come to shop for different reasons – not just to buy, but to enjoy the experience, socialise with friends, to be entertained or have time out. Shopping has to be fun, interactive, stimulating – definitely not boring!


(This month I will focus on retail store experiences)


Have a number of US stores where you can custom-design your shoes. These are shoe-making stores where you can select the colour, sole and strips you want & they make them up right there! It can also be done online, but is much more fun in store.

Trader Joe’s

An unconventional grocery store – products are not the usual branded ones but a variety of unconventional quality goods from around the globe. Shopping is an adventure - store environment is tropical, staff are enthusiastic about their products, wear Hawaiian shirts and interact naturally with customers while they shop – you actually enjoy buying from them. There are no annoying staff announcements, just a coded system of bells. Trader Joes don’t sell online, they don’t discount or franchise and their products continually vary – a fun place to shop. They take low rent sites & do twice the volume per sq.m as other supermarkets.


More a tea emporium that a tea shop – operating both as stores and online with an amazing range of teas and tea-making equipment. Stores employ interactive fresh tea sampling as soon as you walk in - staff are devoted to the products, they talk lifestyle & health benefits and are taught well how to close a sale. You would find it hard NOT to purchase from them. Their online business is also phenomenal.


A fairly new franchise in the US – each outlet has an amazing variety of iced yoghurt flavours on tap. Customers choose & serve themselves the combination they want paying by weight. Stress is on real ingredients and low fat health benefits together with ‘You Rule’ choice. Stores can be run by a single person!

American Girl

A doll store with a real difference – this is a mother/daughter/doll fun day out. Not only are the dolls tailored to your child’s personal profile - they can look just like her! The store also boasts doll-friendly dining, a doll hair salon, photography, birthday parties and special events such as ear piercing, together with exclusive doll clothes and fashion accessories. They do sell online but the instore experience can’t be beaten.


An Italian food concept which began in Italy, now in Japan and New York. Under the same roof you can choose from a range of fine Italian restaurants, an Italian food market for your own ingredients and several take away Italian food options. They call it the heartbeat of Italy – an energetic marketplace with opportunity to taste and take home the best Italian products.


It’s easy to follow the crowd, but each of these retailers have thought how they can engage customers and make their experience fun.

Next month I will share other interactive retail ideas I’ve come across.

Peter Irvine
Peter is Co-Founder of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, author of "Win In Business", speaker and business consultant.

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