From the February 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

In an effort to appeal to cost-conscious consumers, some retailers are taking a lesson from warehouse stores. Even stalwart Sears recently announced plans to revamp the standard layout of its stores to give consumers a more spacious feel, featuring wide aisles, simple displays and streamlined checkout.

Discounts and making customers feel they're getting more for their money are what a warehouse store promises, says Gayle Marco, an associate professor of marketing and expert in retailing at Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Smaller retailers might use a unit price comparison or use words like "wholesale" to show customers what a value they're getting.

Greg Balanko-Dickson, owner of business consulting firm The Company Workshop in Edmonton, Canada, suggests selling store memberships or having a special open house "behind-the-scenes" tour to get that same warehouse club feel. "Membership is revenue," he says, because it encourages repeat shopping-customers come back because they feel like they're getting something special.

Before following the trend, however, Balanko-Dickson reminds store owners to know their customers. "Just because a trend is popular doesn't mean it will fit your customers' needs," he says. "Find out if they want it first."