Retail Turns a Corner
We think our advantage is that the sales associates in our stores have separated us from our competition in all areas for many years—particularly the commissioned areas, not just electronics but furniture and mattresses. We train our people and spend a lot of time and energy to make sure they're knowledgeable. As a company, we will be ahead, in total, for the year—which I don't think is the norm for this year.
Oates: We've just paid attention to the basics; gotten inventories in line...making sure that we paid strict and close attention to details. We watched margins on a daily basis. We trained and trained and trained our people. Skill levels are very important right now. The high-end business has been challenged. Particularly in the Midwest, where we are. We're in rural, tertiary markets, and those consumers are a bit more cautious. So we also have to make sure we're doing everything we can to motivate and excite and please our customers. Customers recognize legitimate value today. There are some retailers out there that still use bait-and-switch tactics. That's retailing from the '60s and '70s, and it doesn't work any more.
Saunders: We changed our marketing a bit, and did more TV ads. We advertise the fact that we're a 57-year-old, family-owned business and we're here to stay. We've also had some price advertising mixed in with that. Also, we found that direct-mail pieces did really well. A lot of our advertising in the past had been just ROP (run of press) in newspapers. We still do inserts that are fairly successful. We also tie into NASCAR, which is really big in our area when the races are in.