We often notice the weird, the unhinged, the clueless in retail. They make for good entertainment and “stories from the trenches.”
But for every woman standing in the middle of the store trying on big hats, there are hundreds of stories about retailers stepping up to help their communities. It’s a few of these examples that we’d like to highlight in this week’s Adventures in Retail.
Connection & Community
As human beings, we crave social connections, in fact, we need them for our survival. The campfire has been replaced by the town square, and the rendezvous by the strip mall, but the feeling is the same. We love to find the latest trends, meet new people, renew trusted friendships, and find something special that makes us feel good.
Being part of a community also provides a needed social network. We learned how lonely people became during the pandemic. Some suffered isolation that led to mental health issues. Getting out, moving around the community, walking the sidewalks, window shopping, and talking to a friend in the store did wonders for well-being.
Retailers play a major part in the community. They employ first-time workers like high schoolers learning to be responsible, and also provide lifelong careers for working parents.
Giving Back & Doing Good
We’ve heard stories about a men’s clothing store provides suits for recovering drug addicts interviewing for their first job. Grocery stores delivering food to shut-ins during the pandemic. Hardware stores donating supplies after devastating storms, and jewelers stepping up to hire veterans.
They get involved in fundraisers and become part of the voice calling for safer neighborhoods. Then there’s the story of Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale who turned his Gallery Furniture stores into shelters for victims affected by Hurricane Harvey back in 2017. It had such a positive impact helping 400 people that the story went viral and he was featured in Time
Keeping the web of local commerce going benefits the whole community. It means the local fashion boutique can afford to sponsor the local girl’s soccer team. It means the local furniture storeowner can afford to support the local soup kitchen.
As we move on from shut-in shopping, retailers need to realize what we learned: Customers want experiences, they want connections, they want a respite from the hectic workday, and they want to get out.
Creating a store experience that lets customers take their time, interact with other people, and feel like they are part of a community is the most valuable thing we can do for our customers, but also our own businesses.
We should be proud that we are creating gathering places, building the economy, providing jobs.
We love hearing about retailers who are using their retail businesses as places of change and places to do good.
What have you done for your community? What else have you seen done by other retailers? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Keep fighting the good fight.