Thursday, January 23, 2020

The most unkindest cut of all.

If you live in the wonderful beachside city of Ormond Beach, Florida, you already know the news and have had conversations about it, shaken your head and maybe taken to social media to show support for the over 65 employees that greeted us each week (for some of us, each day).
This is literally an almost Shakespearean tale of the rise and fall of a new brand - new to us, new to our town - and the different stages of the fabled "purchase funnel" many of us travelled through at light speed. From Awareness to Loyalty, rarely has brand adoption come so quickly. Only to be taken away so abruptly and unceremoniously.
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This is also the rarest of tales, because everything - the Press, Advertising, Media Marketing and Communications - were all executed like a 101 compendium of "this is how you roll out a store, brand, company and philosophy." And we literally ate it up. And it tasted good. Even the vegan wonton wrappers. 
In May, a wonderful new-to-us little grocery store opened where one had vacated the premises 10 years earlier. It was a fun place to see and be seen, but not in the "society" way - rather in the "neighborly" way. We could walk around with coffee, kombucha, beer or wine. We could get our children free fruit for the trip. We could listen to live music and buy freshly grilled ribs or handmade ramen. And the bacon. Don't ever forget the bacon.
It worked here, and obviously didn't work everywhere, because otherwise its parent company would've decided not to cut and run. But sometimes things just work in a place because it's the right time, the right message, the right market - the Venn diagram equivalent of retail lightening. And this was it. And then it wasn't.
Across demographics - and this is not scientific, but it's consumer behaviorism-y enough that anecdotally it will make sense - there was not a person that you could talk to that either a)wasn't excited about the new store b)shopped there regularly or c)was curious, stopped in and thought it was good for specialty things. "C)" Is obviously why it didn't pass muster with the parent brand any longer. And I am talking about everyone from all-in organic-loving Boulder-y (its home base) types to Alex P. Keaton-y meat and potatoes wholesomeness. That's like brand "Nirvana" (which incidentally they also played among other GenX favorites).
This case study in brand and retail launch lasted from May through basically this past Tuesday (January 21) - with closing slated for mid-February. But it was perfect while it lasted, and everyone in town hopes there will be a silver lining. And there will be because this is a special place.
Just as this community hoped for a Trader Joe's, Publix Greenwise, Whole Foods, Fresh Market or some other, maybe independent, local boutique grocer for the decade the property had been vacated - maybe these folks will now see that something in this special and unique community can thrive and become a part of the whole. Because it can, and it was awesome and great while it lasted. And we can't wait to see what's next.

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