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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shopportunity Book

Read Kate Newlin's 2006 book: Shopportunity: How to be a Retail Revolutionary. She is a former president of Faith Popcorn's company: Brainreserve. She also worked at P&G during the late 70's, as I did. The book is directed at the consumer rather than the retailer or manufacturer, but it does make some useful points. Along the way she builds up a set of 21 steps to be a retail revolutionary that are worth considering.

Some of this book is about selling and buying experiences with women's clothing, which I know little about. Yet there are some good tales and insights along the way. The Vlasic Pickles $2.97 Gallon jar example of Wal-Mart and its suppliers is well told. That also leads to the destructive influence that low price and perpetual promotions have had on the department store. Some good historical points about how department stores started and evolved. She also tours upscale and downscale specialty stores. Newlin says that good design, in specialty shops or department stores is rare.

She praises P&G and their Gillette acquisition, if only to provide ammunition to fight Wal-Mart. She is relentless in criticizing Wal-Mart from a number of directions. She suggests that at the end of the day it can be about the thrill of the hunt and that companies like Whole Foods and Wegmans do this very effectively. Part of her advice to consumers is to always shop above your budget (but not necessarily buy). Probably not advice for the Wal-Mart shopper.

They had a shopportunity web site, but it is no longer online. Newlin's consulting company.

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