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Re-visiting “the move” 1,000 days later

Goodn_NaturalIt was the spring of 2006 when Dennis Schroeder and his daughter Leane Harasymchuk engineered a major move, taking their store Good ‘n’ Natural from a 1,000 sq. ft. downtown strip mall location in Steinbach MB to a new, larger 2,700 sq. ft. space on a high traffic corner across town.  (CNHR Sept-Oct 2006)

Operating in a general trading area of roughly 30,000, which includes towns surrounding Steinbach, Good ‘n’ Natural was also to some degree competing against natural stores in Winnipeg, just a 40 minute drive to the north and west.  Prior to the move, many steps were taken by Leane and Dennis to visit other natural stores across the country and to also get the pulse of their customers, asking what they’d like to see in the soon-to-be created location.

It was the spring of 2006 when Dennis Schroeder and his daughter Leane Harasymchuk engineered a major move, taking their store Good ‘n’ Natural from a 1,000 sq. ft. downtown strip mall location in Steinbach MB to a new, larger 2,700 sq. ft. space on a high traffic corner across town.  (CNHR Sept-Oct 2006)

Operating in a general trading area of roughly 30,000, which includes towns surrounding Steinbach, Good ‘n’ Natural was also to some degree competing against natural stores in Winnipeg, just a 40 minute drive to the north and west.  Prior to the move, many steps were taken by Leane and Dennis to visit other natural stores across the country and to also get the pulse of their customers, asking what they’d like to see in the soon-to-be created location.

As a result of the research  – which included a detailed questionnaire customers were asked to complete – the new store featured expanded organic food, supplement and HABA offerings, wider aisles, two tills, environmental flooring and lighting choices, and just a general focus on making the entire shopping experience more pleasurable.

A recent re-visit to Good ‘n’ Natural 1,000 days after the move showed a more mature, fuller store, with just a few minor cosmetic changes.   Everything looks great, but what’s the real story?  Leane graciously answered a few questions about how everything has played out following the move.

CNHR: So, it’s been over three years in this spot.  How has the new store been received by the people who had the biggest influence on its creation: the customers?

A: “It has been received amazingly,” says Leane.  “We still get lots of positive comments.”

CNHR: How’s the new store holding up?

A: The store is holding up fine.  Our flax-based floor is proving to be durable and relatively easy to maintain.  We were somewhat concerned about this as nobody in our area had any experience with the product.  Our full spectrum lighting has been an excellent investment in terms of maintenance and atmosphere.  We are pleased with the store layout and it seems to function well.  We have received countless thank-you’s from mothers as their children love to play in our children’s play area.

CNHR: How has the past year been for Good ‘n’ Natural?

A: We have had another good year with solid increases in sales, gross profit and net profit.  Our customer count is only marginally higher than last year so we have gotten our sales increases by increasing the dollars per transaction.

CNHR: What are some of the new things you’ve tried recently?

A: We have been operating a weight-loss clinic within our store where we provide one-on-one consultations with weekly weigh ins and support.  In the last two years, we have had to add more shelving to the store, and make minor changes to our layout to accommodate the privacy required for our weight-loss clinic.

CNHR: What are some of the major challenges you’ve faced in recent times?

A: Our challenges are mostly self-imposed targets for improvement in various aspects of the business.  We have improved our facility, upgraded our P.O.S systems, and fine-tuned our marketing to a point where we are constantly getting more value from the advertising money we spend.  This coming year, we want to focus on staffing and bringing our level of customer service to a new level. We have a wonderful staff who provide great customer service, so we are going to be focusing more on education.  We are evaluating the possibility of expanding our delivery service.  We have provided free delivery for our most senior customers who have been with us for years and find themselves at a point where they can no longer operate a car.  We are considering expanding this service to people who are too busy to come to the store.  Our local economy is still relatively strong even though the largest area employer reduced staffing by approximately 50 per cent and the agriculture sector has had a challenging year.

CNHR: Looking back, having had loads of time to evaluate your decision to move, is there anything you would have done differently to get where you are now.

A: I really think we did everything right involving the move.

The location was key, and I think we chose this one well.  It has been a huge asset moving here. We’re free-standing with huge signage and very visible.  There’s always going to be little tweaks and things, but we worked as a team, made a plan, followed it well, and it has proven successful.  We didn’t go into too big a space, and our goal is always to use each square foot to the maximum.  So, no, I don’t think we would have changed anything.

CNHR: For other retailers planning what you did, moving to a new space, what advice would you give?

A: Keep getting feedback from your customers about what is important to them   Continue to ask questions, do surveys, get feedback. Did you find everything?  Is there any services you’d like to see us offer? Anything we can improve on? Can we bring other items in we don’t carry?  You have to be constantly asking and listening. Be open to change. Watch for trends.  Work with your reps.

Even after our move, we still do this.  We’re constantly asking questions, doing surveys, making comment cards available.

We respond to these things, and our customers value this. We’re always listening to what they want and keeping up with that.”

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