This little thought has been in the back of my mind for a few months now. It started with the change in business direction for one of the new retail stores on James Street. Yeah, that one. It came to mind again yesterday as I was looking at the North Star and read that the store had experienced a break-in. Not good.
But what’s this about rock and roll? Well you know the expression, ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock & Roll’ and it’s association with the 60’s generation. It all connects.
What first started as a shop that had curtained windows and a simple suggestion of being an adult toy store had, by the summer, opened their curtains and proudly hung a cannabis banner. This I believe is what’s referred to as a ‘pivot’ in business strategy parlance. If your first business strategy isn’t too successful, pivot to another area. It’s a very popular approach often used by high-tech start-ups to reassure their investors that they now have a much better idea warranting even more investment.
Well pivoting certainly seemed the right thing to do from my point of view. Hmm, you have an adult store with its only entry on the main street of town in close proximity to three banks, several real estate offices and a medical clinic. Good news, you have lots of traffic. Bad news, you have lots of people able to see who is walking into your store. The curtained windows are great, but only if you can get people into your toy store without being recognized. Ever wonder why most adult ’boutiques’ down south are located at the next interstate exit behind trees and a berm?
We Canadians are a pretty conservative lot, except of course those Vancouverites. And Parry Sound may just be a little more conservative than average. Perhaps not in the summer when we have all those big city tourists in town, but certainly now after the leaves have fallen and it’s just us. Parry Sound is not Amsterdam, even though the weather in November is similarly miserable.
So the prospect of being seen walking into a ‘toy’ store is something most of us would not want. Certainly not when there are comparable online resources available. Then the only people who know what you are up to are your mailman, perhaps the Purolator guy (or gal), the FedEx person, or …. Well at least its not the type of people who shop on James Street and frequent the bank. Thank goodness the churches are a couple of blocks away. And it’s not as though you walk in and try out anything. Or can you? I hope not. Trying things on, or out, is the reason most of us go to a store for a purchase rather than buying it online; you know, clothes, shoes, rechargeable drills.
So the pivot to drug paraphernalia was pretty smart. Drugs are arguably an adult ‘hobby’ and largely accepted if not yet totally legal. So, if you see someone walking into the store you have a reasonable doubt as to whether they are there for the toys, the bong, or both. And those of you with a medical condition that would benefit from medical marijuana have nothing, I mean nothing, to explain. It’s a medical condition that requires treatment, sort of like that medical condition for which they prescribe the little blue pill.
Once you have your alibi what you actually look at is your own business; and that of whomever else is in the store at the same time. But you are all sworn to secrecy aren’t you? The Parry Sound version of ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
Now, I’m waiting for the next, and last, pivot. First sex, then drugs; bring on the rock & roll. This serves as the perfect cover for those who might not like to be seen as interested in either of the first two. The challenge is maintaining an adult ‘vibe’ to the store. I’m not sure, but there may be a legal requirement to restrict the age of those who enter an adult toy store. So advertising rock and roll may invite a younger, perhaps underage, crowd. The solution is to carry and advertise only rock and roll from the 60’s. You know, Jefferson Airplane, Iron Butterfly, Cream, Steppenwolf, Country Joe and the Fish. The younger generation may recognize it but they don’t like it. It’s sort of the way I am familiar with music from the 40’s, Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw, but don’t care for it. Not at all.
So, if things play themselves out as I expect we’ll have a 60’s music store in town by next summer. It won’t make any money with the music (is anyone besides Apple?) but it creates the necessary cover for the clients. “Sex toys, drug paraphernalia, no, I dropped in to see if there was anything new by the Zombies.” Actually, you would have a much better alibi if you were looking for something new by Jimi Hendrix or the Grateful Dead. It seems almost five decades later they are still regularly discovering ‘new’ material by these two artists.
And don’t worry about excluding the kids, they know how to take care of themselves. The same way they get their cigarettes and booze; they’ll either get an adult to buy it for them, or they’ll just pinch it from their parents.
(There is a council meeting this coming week, so I’ll be back to previews and reviews. No more of this free business strategy consulting stuff, it’s time to start taking a serious look at the 2013 budget.)