Retail stores are typically just retail stores.
You walk in. Someone gives you a half-assed ‘Welcome’. You poke around. You might buy some shit. Then you leave.
Unless you’re at the Filson flagship store in Seattle, WA.
Because if you go to Filson, you might encounter a local BBQ joint posting up outside handing out free sliders, jerky and roasted nuts.
Or you might then walk in to get greeted by a guy who looks like Grizzly Adams who gives you a genuine WELCOME! – letting you know all the fun shit they have going on today.
Then before you even make it to the second floor, you might get intercepted by a hot dog stand. Yes, a hot dog stand. From Dante’s Inferno Dogs. BOOM.
And if you’re able to make it past the massive giveaway they’re doing with a canoe full of Dad’s favorite products (see below), you might see the setups they have for a local knife-making company or even everyone’s favorite local Molly Moon’s ice cream (also below).
THEN, and not until then, you may start actually browsing around and buying some really high-end, well-made outdoorsy gear. Regardless of whether it’s 100x out of your budget.
So, why does this matter? What does a hot dog stand have to do with buying high-end outdoors gear?
It’s so simple. It’s about creating a positive experience so you’re happy when you’re in there. Because if you’re happy, you’re more likely to think happily about Filson and buy something (whether that day or in the future).
Filson brings in vendors and has nice employees and a beautiful store where the history of the brand is woven throughout and books all about the outdoors scattered throughout the store to get you in the mindset – whether that’s the outdoors mindset or the positive vibes mindset.
When I get a free pulled pork slider out front, I’m already feeling grateful. I was pleasantly surprised about the free stuff I was getting (slider, hot dog, ice cream) and thus felt like I’d ‘saved’ money already. Then when I feel positive and inspired by the things around me, I’m more likely to do something ‘for myself’, like buy a product if I see it.
Let’s say Filson had 1,000 people walk through their store that day (there were at least 50 in the store when I was in there on Saturday). Let’s say they spent $400 to get the BBQ company to come by (great exposure for them too – everybody wins) and they served up 250 sliders that day ($1.60 per slider). Let’s say they spent $200 to get Dante’s to come and served up 150 hot dogs ($1.30 per dog – also great exposure for Dante’s. Hell, I never would have known them, nonetheless blog about them). Then they paid $300 to get Molly Moon’s to come and served up 150 root beer floats ($1.50 per float). And let’s say the average person spent $10 in the store, meaning the vast majority of people don’t buy something but when they do, the product is expensive and the margins are large. So if 1,000 people spend $10 each, that means revenue on the day would’ve been $10,000. And let’s assume 75% margin on their products, so profit would’ve been $7,500 on the day. Less the $900 assumed spent on vendor presence (now at $6,600) then paying employees and other operating expenses, it’s possible they only netted a few grand on the day.
But the marketing exposure (of having a high-trafficked storefront), positive long-term consumer relationships they built (new relationships like me or reinforcing existing ones) and cold hard cash they earned at one retail location means that Filson’s mindset is on long-term value with consumers. And having a kickass in-store experience on a Saturday in Seattle for 1,000 people is a critical way of getting there.
Any brand could take after Filson. Have a great, well-designed in-store experience supplemented by things that make the customer feel valued so they’re happy, inspired and grateful – and they’re way more likely to spend their money with you. Or talk about the brand and store to their friends.
Or blog about it, like this.