I’ve been trying something different for the last six months.
Random Rules was a small, independent music store just off Warwick Street, Worthing’s ‘cafe quarter’. After a promising start about two years ago, sales were dropping. The owner didn’t want to invest in stock. The shop was losing its way.
So – for six months, I took over. It’s been a challenge, but I’ve built up a loyal customer base, a reputation for stocking interesting CDs and odd stuff, and created a buzz through some innovative marketing. We’ve staged instore appearances by bands, despite the shop being tiny; organised events for children; hosted web TV shows; kept the coffee machine on the whole time.
So it’s worked; sales are up, people enjoy visiting and hanging out, and trust the shop’s recommendations. People described it as a little bit of Brighton or London. We’ve just been shortlisted in the Worthing Business Awards, in the ‘retail’ category. And a few weeks ago, it was time to renew the lease. Easy enough.
The thing is, I don’t think you need a shop to stay successful in retail. Why sit and wait, using a business model that’s hundreds of years old? Surely it’s time for something new?
I’m not talking about an online shop; anyone could do that. Stack it high, sell it cheap, go global.
I want to create the atmosphere of an old-fashioned record shop. A place to hang out, hear new things, build friendships and buy stuff that you love. I want it to stay local, but online.
I’m talking about harnessing social media (that’s Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and all those nifty Web 2.0 gadgets and gizmos) to create the same retail vibe. The same buzz, the same conversation.
I’m talking about using the same techniques we use with the Revolutionary Arts Group; open houses, unusual venues, marketing stunts. The same buzz, the same conversation.
I’m looking for a whole new way to retail music. Finding the best stock, and getting it to Worthing’s customers. I’m trying something really different for the next six months; want to join me?