Walgreens Lake_Charles_20

“WELCOME TO WALGREENS!,” the recorded announcement echoed throughout the empty 15,000 sq. ft. store.  The announcement was so loud that it startled my wife and myself as we entered the store late in the evening.  It was if the voice of god greeted us to the drug store.  I commented that I had never run across this before in a store.

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In retail history

UPCEOn June 26th, 1974, a cashier at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio ushered in the modern era of retail cashiering when the scanned the first item sold with a Universal product Code or UPC.

The first UPC codes were developed and patented in the 30s and 40s with the first practical attempts to use UPC coming in the 1960s when railroads experimented with multi-color codes for tracking rail cars.  The experiment was not successful and the railroads discontinued their use.

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In retail history


Wanamaker_Organ_1904Striving to make his store the finest in the land, John Wanamaker purchased the world’s largest organ produced in 1904 for the World’s Fair in Saint Louis, MO.  The organ that had bankrupted the company that built it had languished in storage for years.

Requiring thirteen rail cars to move it to Philadelphia, the organ had over 10,000 pipes and took two years to install.  On June 22nd, 1911, the first organ performance was performed to coincide with the coronation of King George of England.  The organ was expanded several times and by 1930, it contained 28,482 pipes.

While the store has gone through a number of sales and name changes, the organ still entertains shoppers to this day over 100 years later.



I found myself downtown earlier than I had expected and I had an hour to kill before I met my wife for lunch so I took the opportunity to wander around a bit.  I soon found myself outside of a small boutique that sold upscale clothing for young professional women.

Being a man who is decidedly not young and casually attired, I clearly did not look like the target customer of the store.  But it was a wonderfully merchandised store that I just had to check out.  So I went.

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“Is that a return?”


return keyMaking a return is not something that most people look forward to at a retail store. Making a return means that you failed at your earlier attempt to successfully buy something.  Maybe it didn’t meet your needs, it was the wrong size or color, it did not fit or you just didn’t like it.  Making the return is usually inconvenient and certainly takes time and effort.  So, why do stores make it worse than it has to be?

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They still like stores


Marshall_Field_and_Co._Retail_Store,_Chicago_(60793)-2I was doing some reading today and ran across these findings from PWC from 2015 and thought I would share an excerpt and the link.

“According to the survey, only 27 percent of U.S. consumers say they shop online weekly. Reserving the strength of the traditional store, 68 percent of U.S. respondents say they have intentionally browsed products at a store but decided to purchase them online, while 73 percent say they have browsed products online but decided to purchase them in-store. Sixty-five percent of the respondents noted delivery fees as the reason for purchasing in-store, as well as having the item immediately (61 percent), and trying it on/seeing it (61 percent).”

from Physical Store Beats Online as Preferred Purchase Destination for U.S. Shoppers, According to PwC

The last line is critical.  Immediacy and the tactile experience are the key advantages of brick & mortar.

Recommended reading – Selling Retail


Lawhon Bk 1

Many people assemble a “Summer Reading List.” Sometimes these are actual plans that are carried out and other times they are mere wish lists of books that aspire to read.  The types of books that make the list can range from the easy to read and not too taxing books of romance, mysteries and the like.  Others tackle the classics, those books that you should have read years ago but never got around to.  (I recently picked up Three Famous Short Novels by William Faulkner and quickly realized why I never got through them in college.)

So, if you are in retail and are looking for a good read, I recommend Selling Retail Books 1 & 2 by John F. Lawhon.  This classic was first published over 30 years ago and continues to stay relevant and insightful today.

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In retail history


From saving arms to increasing transaction size to marring car finishes, a new era of shopping convenience begins on June 4th,1937 with the introduction of the shopping cart.

On April 3rd, 1920, Sylvan Goldman and his brother Alfred, opened the first supermarket in the state of Oklahoma.  One evening in 1936, Sylvan began to wonder how he might get people to buy more items in his store.  He realized that many shoppers limited their purchases to what they could hold easily in the arms or carry in a small basket.  Looking aroundHe found a folding chair that he fastened two baskets to the seat and attached wheels to the legs.  He knew he was on to something.

Over the next few months, he worked with Fred Young and Arthur Kosted, area mechanics, to refine his invention.  Finally, on June 4th, 1937, he introduced the shopping cart at his Humpty-Dumpty Supermarket in Oklahoma City.

Along with a lucrative retail career, Sylvan also invented the airport baggage cart.