Those of you who read NBN regularly (as you should) know that our mother ship, also known as Levine’s Mom, was given the task of checking out the grand opening of Wild Oat’s second lifestyle boutique in a Stop & Shop store.
Well, the initial word from Mom is that the boutique within a store is a winner. (By the way, a lifestyle boutique, is what we in the natural products industry call a personal care department, you know, supplements and body care with a few sticks of incense too.)
“Upon asking where it was, I was given directions to the corner of the store and a coupon for 25% off any product,” Mom reported. “The space was great, , wood, or faux floors, with wide aisles and lots of the brands of vitamins I normally buy at my own store in Stratford.”
In addition to lots of body care products she reported that two helpful people were on staff in the mini-Oats, – a manager and a helpful sales woman both of whom knew their stuff. Also, as won’t surprise anyone, the boutique is located next to the natural foods store within the store, too. I forgot to assign herMom the task of randomly checking prices to see what sort of premium products are selling for at the mini-Oats, but we’ll get that report from her shortly.
So the initial word is good. Now let’s see if it lasts. As those of us who’ve been around know all too well today’s grand opening can sometimes be tomorrow’s grand mistake. The key will be to have helpful staff ready to breach the knowledge barrier that has always plagued mainstream sales of natural products.
“Boy, talk about one- stop shopping,” my mother reported hearing a man exclaim excitedly. “First the bank, now this.”
NBN loves to rake Wild Oats over some hot coals for their consistent blunders, but this move seems like a strong one. Should this partnership continue small independents and the mom and pop shops might suffer under the one-stop shopping bandwagon.
So if Oats can capture shoppers from independents and grow sales among mainstream shoppers with these boutiques, will this innovative strategy translate to a healthier bottom for the ailing Oats? NBN would love to see the contract for this partnership to really see who gets what.?
One thing that NBN asserts is certain is that the boutiques won’t translate to shoppers at Wild Oats own stores. A conversation overheard on Saturday sums it up best.
“So this Wild Oats,” someone asked “what is it?”
To which the curious person was told, “It’s a store. I think they have one in Westport too, but that it’s a little bit bigger.”
Next month NBN will be traveling East and walking the aisles of the mini-Oats ourselves to get more insight into what might be the latest in health and wellness marketing.