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Wholesale Changes

Mom-and-pop stores are so passe. It's time to give your store that warehouse feel.

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."

This story appears in the February 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »