We've been thinking more about our idea for a Shoes of Prey store and last week Dom Price, a good friend regular commenter on this blog emailed us the following thoughts (reproduced here with his permission):
One business that I think you share an element in common with is the micro brewery. We've got one that popped up in Manly about 2.5yrs ago, and it's an interesting concept. When it first arrived, everyone suggested it would fail. The premises had seen many a brilliant idea come and go, Manly already had loads of pubs, and at $10 a pint, surely no-one would drink in there. But just like you are shoe salesmen/women, these guys never set out to open up a pub. They set out to open a beer appreciation society. The mechanism they chose was opening a premises. Cleverly, what they've done since is look at ways to expand the business through different channels that don't restrict the consumer to be onsite. They now sell bottled beer through a counter in the pub. You can also buy it from very select and local bottle shops. You can even buy a party keg which is dropped off in a little mook. It doesn't matter how they sell it (within reason) as its all consistent with their motto of "hand crafted beer brewed naturally" - 4 Pines Brewing Company.
There are two things that resonates with me and lots of the punters when you visit their premises. Firstly, in one corner behind a massive glass window is all the equipment that brews the beer. Common assumption is that to be a micro brewery, you have to have all that there. Not true. Well partially true, but most of it is for show, but it really sets the scene. Secondly, they have a massive chalk board wall which has the "hand crafted" and "complex/special" brewing process that shows your average punter how their beer was produced. You won't believe the number of visitors that get magnetised by that and love to go on telling the story, not just of the amazing beer they had but their fascination and knowledge with how it was produced.
If you guys continue on your thought process to open up a retail store, I think there are some amazingly powerful messages that you can use to replicate parts of your process in the store and send strong messages to your customers about the experience they have with their shoes, rather than the single dimension of how good the shoes are.
Some great ideas in this for us. Have you seen businesses take a similar approach where they take something relatively normal like a pub but turn it into something that offers a unique, fun, educational and interesting experience for the customer?