For my first SBDC blog post, I thought a nice introduction might be to revisit some notes taken this past summer during “Northern Virgina Retail Week.” I attended several presentations by Marc Wilson, retail expert and consultant to the Virginia Small Business Development Center. A page entitled, “Differentiate the Business” was important enough to have appeared in all three of the events I attended. This can be accomplished, he tells us, by showing how a retailer meets all or some of these criteria:
Answering sets the business owner on the path to the well known “30 second elevator pitch” eventually enabling him/her to come up with the all important tag line, i.e., Don’t leave home without it. This advice, totally relevant for the business end of a small retailer, also informs the physical elements. Consider the speeding Nike logo.
As an architect working with retail clients, I have found that working out the all important tagline, whether it is actually used or not, may be more difficult than figuring out what it should look like and that taking this one step further leads to a store design that supports the retailer’s image and promotes the most possible sales. Consider this rustic little shop that found its muse in a can of red paint, thereby outlasting its competition in a shrinking market. No question of differentiation here.
Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture andInterior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.