Toilets, not Scale, the Key to Successful Retailing?

Paul Howell of the WSJ reviews George Whalin’s new book Retail Superstars. The book profiles 25 successful and creative retailers who have been able to thrive in an era dominated by corporate giants such as Starbucks and Best Buy. From the review:

Then there is Jungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield, Ohio. The store’s 300,000 square feet of space allow it to carry everything from $8,000 bottles of wine to hogs’ heads. The doors to the restrooms are designed so that customers think they’re going into Porta Potties, only to find beautifully appointed restrooms inside.

Actually, restrooms are a bit of a theme in “Retail Superstars.” At Abt Electronics, in Glenview, Ill., “the Abt family’s obsession with customer care extends to everything with which a customer comes in contact. Often overlooked in retail and a persistent source of consumer ire are unkempt bathrooms.” The men’s and women’s rooms at Abt Electronics, “designed like those you might find in a five-star hotel,” include marble floors and counters and other amenities. In Scottsdale, Ariz., the restrooms in A Celebration of Golf are replicas of those at Augusta National, the Georgia home of the Masters golf tournament. Like Augusta’s caddies, the store’s salesmen wear white jumpsuits.

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