A retail visionary on retail vision
When Bernie Marcus talks, people listen. That’s one reason you can catch him on the television business news programs.
Home Channel News spoke to the co-founder of The Home Depot for the purpose of promoting the 30th anniversary of the City of Hope research and treatment facility. Of course, the conversation strayed to home improvement. One of his lessons to retailers of any stripe: Keep your eyes open.
“I visit all stores. I visit Lowe’s. I visit everybody. Walmart, Costco, I go to Menards when I’m in Chicago. It’s good to know what’s out there,” Marcus said. “One thing you have to know is nobody has a lock on brains. There are a lot of people around who have a lot of brains, and when somebody comes up with something that’s smarter than what you do, you have to adjust your business and your thinking.”
While The Marcus Foundation, his Atlanta-based charity, keeps him busy every day, Marcus said he still enjoys keeping in touch with his Home Depot executives and even walks stores with them. “I love to share with them, and they do listen to me when I’m right,” he said. “Sometimes some of the old things still work in the new world.”
All American Home Center closes its doors
All American Home Center in Downey, Calif., was famous in the home improvement industry for a number of things, chief among them its size: 150,000 sq. ft. plus an outdoor garden center. But most people admired the family-owned home center for the fact that it survived the opening of a Home Depot right next store in 1996. In fact, the two retailers have adjacent parking lots.
Lanny Gertler, whose father opened the store in 1952, remodeled the large home center several times, and All American had a loyal clientele in its working class neighborhood in Orange County. But Gertler passed away in February 2010, and last month, the retailer hired Gordon Brothers Group to liquidate the store’s inventory, a process that will run into next month. Third-generation owner Tamar Kane has given no official reason for the store’s closure, although she issued a statement that said: “Our customers have shown us great loyalty for decades, and we hope they take advantage of these incredible savings on home improvement supplies.”
Industry insiders told Home Channel News that a group of senior managers tried to buy All American from Kane but were rebuffed.
In addition to being widely known within the industry, the store was also seen by television viewers. All American served as a setting in the HBO series “Big Love,” in which it played the role of the fictitious Henrickson’s Home Plus.
Starting to click: Leaders embrace multichannel model
Multichannel retailing has been a buzzword since long before Jeff Bezos first reported a profit at Amazon.com (that was back in January 2002). Today, the biggest home improvement retailers are still at it, walking shoulder-to-shoulder into the multichannel future. Well, at least, they sound a lot alike.
Consider the following clicks-and-bricks-related comments:
“We call our strategy interconnected retail, because we believe that our responsibility is to make sure however the customer wants to buy that we have the ability to service their needs.”
— Marvin Ellison, executive VP U.S. stores, Home Depot
“We’ve got to make sure that we’re priced competitively every day across those channels so that long term, we’re going to be able to provide the value proposition that consumers are looking for no matter what channel they choose to shop.”
— Robert Niblock, CEO, Lowe’s
“We believe it is becoming more and more obvious that the future of retail will revolve around the seamless integration of online and offline experiences.”
— Lou D’Ambrosio, CEO
“We are now committed to saying, we have to get in this space in the right way with the right people behind it. We have to be able to give them the convenience to shop, when, how, where they want. We know, as an example, that more and more of our customers are coming through our site.”
— Greg Sandfort, president and CMO