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That Certain Something


A new local grocery store around the corner from us finally opened its doors last weekend. For weeks we’ve been pressing our noses to the window as the new tenants swept the floor and stocked the shelves ready for the big day. The previous grocer stocked only organic produce, operated a juice bar and sold health supplements. He did well for many years until he expanded to two more locations that didn’t gain traction and eventually had to close all three.

Our new grocer tells us he doesn’t sell organic produce but he plans to stock more convenience food in the coming weeks. We’re not sure how his offering will be different enough from that of the two big-name supermarkets just four hundred metres walk from his door.

His store doesn’t sell anything customers can’t buy cheaper in another shop. He can’t compete on proximity, product range or price, so he needs to offer customers something they won’t get at the supermarket. It’s not yet clear what that ‘certain something’ is.

The people in our neighbourhood will try to support this new local store. They will pop in for a forgotten ingredient at 5 pm on a Tuesday evening or buy fresh flowers to cheer up a room at the weekend. But there won’t be enough of us buying sufficient volume to keep the lights on, and the shelves stocked.

Whatever we make, sell or serve, the question we must ask ourselves isn’t—if we build it, will they come? The harder and often scarier question to answer is—why would they come?

It sounds obvious, but we must give the people we want serve enough reasons to support us. Listing those reasons is a good place to start.

Image by Mehrad Vosoughi

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