Flashback


Six Decades of Industry News Radical Retailing

April 1969

If we look back 30 years, we would see that retailers were looking ahead — 20 years into the future.

In 1969, John Lebow, president of Famous Liquor Stores imagined a very different world for prospective retail operations.

According to Lebow, the retail stores of 1989, a.k.a. Festive Shop, were to be a sanitized, peaceful centers where reflective customers could go for a zen-like shopping experience.

Here’s the scenario: consumers enter the Festive Shop through a hallway lined with exotic plants and lounge chairs that “invite the consumer to relax to review his shopping needs.” The customers can then start shopping.

The Festive Shop’s departments are a departure from the aisles and displays we know today, and instead consist of bottles displayed behind glass in the walls, each clearly labeled with tasting notes and other related information. If the Festive shopper wants to purchase the product, they would “register” the product on a credit-like card by inserting it into a slot in the wall next to the item.

Customers register their other selections on the same card and, after all selections are made, take the card to a register, which will automatically ring up the products and charge it “against the customer’s one single credit card number (same as the social security number),” also used for monthly household payments. A receipt will be printed at the register and shoppers can pick up their inventoried purchases at the fully-automated customer service counter.

The customer takes her items, gets into her radar screen-shielded car and takes her purchases home at the end of another grueling four-day work week.

Lebow’s visions may have been slightly fantastical, but maybe not so farfetched in another two decades. Though by the year 2019, it may be more likely that customers will have their product delivered to their homes–after shopping at their favorite Virtual Festive Shop.

April 1973

The idea of change linked the late ’60s and early ’70s together, and while some retailers dreamed about the future of the industry, others had to face emerging trends, primarily, the proliferation of women in the beverage alcohol marketplace.

As Census Bureau director George Brown noted in 1973, “[Women’s] new lifestyle and self-sufficiency have undoubtedly made them primary customers for beverage alcohol producers.”

A special 12-page section, titled “The Woman Customer Today,” told retailers how to attract the 50% to 75% of women reported to regularly visit beverage alcohol stores.

Following were several “Sales Building Ideas: “

To permit women to browse as long as they like; offer to watch the children and make sure to have toys for the kiddies as an added treat; stock colorful and “arty” shopping bags; and, like old Southern gentlemen, always carry women’s bags to their cars.

Beverage alcohol retailers may want to rethink keeping toys around for the kiddies, and some people could get arrested for taking items to a woman’s car. Otherwise, there’s always something to be said about an upscale shopping bag.

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