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If You Give People This 'Discovery' — They'll Buy From You Instead of Amazon Creating a unique retail experience doesn't have to be a big flashy production. We're all just looking for a story that makes us feel good about ourselves.

By Frances Dodds

Key Takeaways

  • Shopping in-person, there's no algorithm serving you more of what you already know about; the real world is unpredictable—and that's exactly what younger shoppers want.
  • As Gen Z builds their buying power, the biggest investments local retailers can make is in their brick-and-mortar locations.
  • This ability to discover something and to feel connected to a local community is an experience. And it gives the customer a story to tell their friends as they justify the purchase.
LuLu's Cuts & Toys | Facebook

Last week, I saw the sad news that one of my favorite shops was closing its doors after 22 years of business. Lulu's Cuts and Toys, which sold kids' toys and haircuts, was a mainstay in the Park Slope neighorhood of Brooklyn. I don't have any children of my own, but Lulu's was always go-to destination for my nieces' and nephew's birthdays and last-minute baby shower foraging. The place was stuffed with soft, surprising things — a cozy haven for unique and nostalgic discoveries: cute vegetable pun onesies, the classic whoopie cushion, stretchy rubber rainbow-colored ramen noodles, assorted Harry Potter wizard wands, etc.

The business announced its closure with a note taped to the window (and its digital counterpart, a post on Instagram), signed by the owner Brigitte Prat, and her daughter Lulu, the store's namesake. It read, in part:

As a single mother and first-generation American, this community is not only where I grew my business's roots, it is where I raised my daughter. Given the continued growth of big-box online shopping (Amazon, etc.), it is sadly no longer viable to keep our small business thriving with a storefront.

We hope this serves as a reminder to support small businesses in the community. Their products may be $1 or $2 more than Amazon (but often, they are cheaper!), and in exchange, you get personalized customer service, more local jobs, more income circulating within the community (and out of multi-billionaires' hands), a shopping experience that is better for the environment and a neighborhood that feels like a neighborhood and not a corporate strip mall.

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