'Sexy corner' bites into online sales 16 Dec 2012
In the world of mega chain stores, Corners R Us specialises in all things cornered – even with an adults-only back-room marked ‘Sexy Corner Things’.
With online sales biting chunks out of bricks and mortar stores, most segments of the retail sector are doing it hard.
But as department stores are losing out to the online Amazons and Walmarts, large specialty stores are thriving.
It was in one of these that Walter Blackwood struck upon his idea for what might be the most innovative specialty store in living memory.
“I was walking through one of the Mega Beds stores, and I realised I was in the wrong place.”
The items that Mr Blackwood was looking for all had something in common.
“I'd really gone out that day for three things: a right-angle protractor, an architrave and a pointed argument.”
As it was, Mr Blackwood had to find several separate stores – as well as place a call to his lawyer – to fulfill his consumer needs.
But out of that frustration, something unique was born.
“I realised that there's a desperate market for a one-stop mega-store that meets people’s needs for corner-fulfillment.”
“This can mean anything from a Rubik’s Cube to a computer image of an arrow, from picture frames to a video that portrays the uneasy feeling of being trapped at the end of a dark alley.”
Within this one mega-store, there are what Mr Blackwood he calls 'Corner Zones'.
Zones such as ‘Large Corners, ‘Soft Corners’ and 'Dark Corners’ are self-explanatory. Others, including 'Petulant Corners ' and 'Sombre Corners' invite consumers to explore and be surprised.
In a tasteful back room, there's even ‘Sexy Corner Things’, monitored by a kindly security guard to stop minors from entering.
When Corners R Us opened last April, most of Mr Blackwood's detractors came from the usual suspects: CEOs of e-commerce start-ups and owners of major appliance stores.
“No one thought I'd make it,” confesses Mr Blackwood. “They said that if online shopping didn't kill me, then the global economic downturn would.”
And yet neither has stopped the hoards of consumers from making The Corners R Us the darling of the bricks and mortar sector.
From here, Mr Blackwood has more ambitious plans.
“I'm in the final phases of developing a new niche mega-store. The Tube-o-Verse will satisfy all your tubular needs.
“It started when I had a customer come into Corners R Us, totally bewildered. She came up to one of my sales staff and said, 'I have a room in my house that’s screaming for something tubular'.”
Mr Blackwood finishes the anecdote with a smile. “That's where I can help.”
Further down the track, Mr Blackwood is running focus groups for several new concept stores in major eastern seaboard cities.
“We're testing the waters on three new themed stores: GasLand, World O Round and Planet Puce.”
Certainly exciting times ahead for consumers passionate about niche mega-stores.
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