Embrace your authenticity

HFA CEO BLOG Embrace your Authenticity

Embrace your authenticity and do what you do best.

On a recent trip to California, I had the opportunity to make a few store visits. While both are top 100 retailers, I learned some clear lessons that adapt to retailers of any size. Let me start by telling you what stores I visited.

RC Willey is a 90-year-old retail entity based in Salt Lake City. Their stores are big, generally around 150,000 square feet. Their CEO Jeff Child gave me a tour of their Delta Shores store in Sacramento. If you aren’t familiar with RC Willey, they have been known over the years for being a major seller of electronics, appliances, and furniture. Their stores are magnificently merchandized, appealing to the eye, and warm.

Bobs Discount Furniture is one of the country’s fastest-growing home furnishing chains. Their footprint is different. Their stores are around 30,000 square feet with an open floorplan making them comfortable to navigate. A manager walked me through their Laguna store outside of Sacramento.

If you compare these two, store to store, you would see two very different approaches to home furnishings retail. Both are incredibly successful in their unique way. However, some similarities provide lessons for all retailers. In both places, when you step foot in the store, you know exactly what they are about. You understand what they can deliver. They know their customer and what appeals to anyone who walks through the door. They don’t try to be someone else. They do what they do well and embrace their authenticity.

The desire to be something else has never been more evident than when we talk about eComm and the need for brick-and-mortar retailers to have an online presence. While some retailers see their online presence as complimenting their stores, others are obsessed with trying to be Wayfair or Amazon. I believe that the latter approach is precisely what those behemoths want. They know they can win head-to-head online.

My visits to RC Willey and Bob’s Discount Furniture showed me that success comes from knowing exactly who you are and who you serve and not losing sight of either. During these disruptive times, don’t lose sight of your brand identity. It’s not about square footage or the floor plan and obsessing about “the other guy.” Deliver on the promise you make to the customer when you open your doors.


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