February 2019
A Major Facelift By Abby Kleckler

The timing always seems to work out where on my flight back from the Atlanta International Home & Gift Furnishings Market I write my note to all of you to include in the February issue.

You may remember in 2018 we shared with you that International Market Centers (IMC) acquired AmericasMart in Atlanta, meaning it now owns markets in Atlanta, Dallas and Las Vegas. This year at market, IMC CEO Bob Maricich announced $280 million in capital investment at the three locations over the next 24 months.

Some areas he pinpointed to enhance the experience in Atlanta included curb appeal, lobby layout and onsite amenities, saying more than once that fostering “excitement in Atlanta” was an end goal. Even some of the press conference attendees echoed the excitement they already have for the planned changes after his presentation.

This part of Bob’s talk got me thinking about the positive impact aesthetic changes can have in a retail environment.

On page 12, you’ll read an article by Sam Brown of Fiddleheads Garden Center in Dalton, Georgia. You’ll get the garden center’s whole story from its start in 2011 until today, but I want to mention its expansion in 2017.

Not only did Sam and his team have to make the new, large space fit in with the old space — keeping an old barn wood look while no longer having true barn wood — but they also transformed its existing space. A new “Bloomless Bar” and houseplant headquarters for interior plants created added buzz in a category where customers are increasingly more and more passionate.

think beyond

All aesthetic changes don’t need to be huge undertakings like the two stories above. I can think of a few examples from different stores that recently made me take a second look by upgrading lighting, painting the entrance doors, adding a new sign out front or moving displays around in the entrance of the store.

As I waited in the airport a few hours ago, I read an article on Business Insider titled: “Bed, Bath & Beyond’s stores have been called ‘a mess,’ but the chain might be starting to turn that around.”

The CEO plans to begin making changes in March that align with what he calls “show more, carry less initiatives.” I must admit that I am one of those easily overwhelmed shoppers that feels a little claustrophobic when shopping at this chain of stores.

My favorite quote from the article, however, was from Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. He said that Bed Bath & Beyond stores “are a hodge-podge of product, tightly crammed into a space that is largely devoid of inspiration. This makes them hard and sometimes unpleasant to shop.”
Largely devoid of inspiration? If I owned a store that somebody described that way, I would immediately recoil.

Today, many people are walking into brick-and- mortar stores for the sole purpose of inspiration. They often don’t know exactly what they want — or else they would’ve purchased it online. Stores have a huge opportunity to inspire their purchases, and sometimes the aesthetic look and feel of the store can play a large role in how well this is accomplished.

Abby Kleckler

Abby is the managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. Contact her at [email protected]


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