But some do.
Family and Company in my home town of Stratford, Ontario, for one.
Family and Company is a toy store - pure and simple. They face just as much competition as any other specialty store would. Perhaps more. Imagine competing against the likes of Toys R' Us, Walmart, eBay, Zellers/Bay and more. To be a successful David among Goliaths like these you have to be TRULY UNIQUE. Consider these examples:
- They gift wrap, but not with normal gift wrap. It's a bag with loads of ribbon and decorations, additional toys thrown in (which the kids can pick out by the way), unique decorations, and branding, of course.
- They hold regular magic shows.
- Almost every toy has one opened sample for the kids to play with.
- They carry toys that no one else does. Those truly clever toys that just may not have widespread popularity or, more likely, distribution.
- They have tons of kids walking around (in uniform) playing with the kids and offering advice on which gifts to buy.
- They have a small patio outside where entertainers sometimes perform.
In addition to their uniqueness, they have also covered all the marketing fundamentals (relevant to them):
- Prime location in heart of downtown.
- Every receipt comes with a flyer attached highlighting upcoming events, sales and specials.
- Extended hours in peak seasons.
- Relentless focus on the kids.
- Address your marketing fundamentals.
- Be TRULY, OBVIOUSLY, MEMORABLY UNIQUE.
- Be relentless.
- Be creative.
I think that's a lesson for small retailers too: You can't hang your hat on one or two differentiators. You have to really stand out.
But if Family and Company gives us anything, it gives us hope.