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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Retailers Should Heed the Lessons Learned From Movie Gallery, Especially 'Don't Try to Be Something You're Not'

1 Aug, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

By the time you read this, I will be on a plane bound for Sunsplash 2001.

I'll be spending nearly a week in the Land of Dixie, the home turf of Movie Gallery (subject of quite a bit of good press lately for its strong financials and sudden appearance on the radar of Wall Street analysts and stock traders).

Other retailers should heed the lessons to be learned from Movie Gallery.

Perhaps the most important one, from my perspective, is "Don't try to be something you're not."

While Blockbuster was racing for market share and Hollywood Entertainment Corp., Video Update, Video City, West Coast Entertainment and various other contenders were trying to be the next Blockbuster, Movie Gallery was quietly creeping along under the radar.

No rash promises, no bold moves, no huge acquisitions the chain couldn't afford, no hardball marketing strategies that cost wads of money -- that was, and still is, the Movie Gallery way.

This is not to imply there were no missteps along the way. Initially, Movie Gallery let the regional chains it bought keep their own names, their own identities and, in many cases, their own buyers, in the hope that customers would still perceive them as their friendly neighborhood video stores. That plan didn't fly and Movie Gallery management a few years ago wisely began converting stores to the Movie Gallery banner and the Movie Gallery approach.

I visited Movie Gallery stores five years ago and again this year. They have changed dramatically. They are big stores, well lit, well merchandised, with plenty of copies of the latest hit releases (I guess that's mandatory these days!) but also a good selection of catalog product.

They have snacks and candy -- much to the delight of my 5-year-old and 3-year-old boys, who now look forward to a trip to the local video store every time we visit my wife's family in Birmingham, Ala.

And their sales people appear knowledgeable, friendly and courteous.

I expect more good things in Movie Gallery's future. Their focus is clearly on their customers, not on being the next Blockbuster.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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