Natalie Hope Mcdonald

Natalie Hope Mcdonald
cooking up kitchen Sales

Allen & Petersen Cooking & Appliance Center isn’t what it used to be. The full-service retailer in Anchorage, Alaska, has evolved from a traditional appliance store into a gourmet-cooking outpost where aspiring chefs can find everything from kitchen gadgets and gourmet foods to high-end appliances. They can also enroll in cooking classes at the center’s own culinary school. “We wanted to be more than just an appliance store,” said Leon Barbachano, CEO of A&P. “Basically, we say that we sell the best equipment to cook on, the best tools to cook with and the instruction to tie it all together. The Cooking School is

Reversal of Fortune

As the largest inland port in the country, it’s not surprising that Pennsylvania’s one-time industrial hub has remained home to a century’s old company at the forefront of reverse logistics, a vague phrase with a very powerful meaning: less e-waste and more profit for retailers. Just a few miles northeast of downtown Pittsburgh is Papercraft Park, home to GENCO Supply Chain Solutions, a company that began in 1898 as a horse-and-buggy “trucking” company and has since blossomed into the second-largest supply-chain headquarters in North America. While the company offers a breadth of solutions for pharmaceutical and government agencies, it’s real value for the CE

Increase Customer Satisfaction

The average U.S. household owns 25 consumer electronics products, on which the average adult spends about $1,200 each year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. To help you improve your sales average and profit margins, we recently interviewed a number of consumers that cut across different age, social and economic backgrounds to see what makes an ideal in-store and online retail experience. We hope their answers and observations will help you achieve and surpass your goals in 2008. Informed sales people make a difference Nansea Soullaird is a 32-year-old graphic designer who lives in Clifton, N.J., and works in Manhattan. By all accounts, she

Ready or Not

On Feb. 17, 2009, television will change as we know it. Consumers with analog television sets will no longer be able to receive over-the-air programming without investing in a set-top box or new digital television. While it may seem like a non-issue for many consumers who have already purchased HDTVs or subscribe to digital cable and satellite programming nationwide, many other TV watchers may be confused about how the transition will impact them. It’s often up to retailers to educate these customers about how they can continue to receive programming long before the transition takes effect. The proponents of digital television, including the

The Untapped Market

Norah Salmon spends a lot of time online reading news and blogs. The 36-year-old also pays attention to where she spends her money. As a lesbian living in Philadelphia, Salmon said, “I would never knowingly spend my money at a business that discriminates against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) people.” Instead, this savvy consumer takes note of which companies reach out to her with gay-friendly advertising and anti-discrimination policies. “If I know of a gay-supportive business that sells things I need, I make it a point of shopping there,” she said. Salmon’s not alone. According to OpusComm Group, an advertising research firm in

Map Quests

Jokes about re-folding maps and never asking for directions may soon become obsolete as more customers adopt GPS navigation devices. While many devices are designed for in-vehicle navigation, like Magellan’s RoadMate and TomTom’s One, there’s growing interest in GPS watches and pocket PCs, including the Mio DigiWalker, among sports and fitness enthusiasts. More customers are also buying portable car GPS units featuring built-in music players. To improve sales of the new lines of accessories, Jeff Wisot, vice president of marketing at, said the company recommends the devices on each product page at, including the site’s Smart Savings sections, where it bundles the

Intelligent Design

The Maytag repair man may need to go wireless if appliance makers have their way in the next few years. Several major manufacturers are testing out the latest in smart white goods that will use wireless networks to control appliances throughout the home. Does this mean your refrigerator will remind you to buy milk? Possibly. But the real value of IP-based appliances may be in whole-house integration, or connecting your customer’s audio, video, security, climate and lighting controls with their washers, dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators. IP-based appliances offer fertile ground for consumers interested in the many possibilities that exist for the technology. But

It’s a Snap

The days of the memory card being, at times, the only accessories option for digital cameras are long gone. Today, CE retailers have expanded accessories sales to include carry cases; lenses; straps; printers, high-quality paper and ink; personalized picture books; batteries and chargers; digital picture frames; tripods; and filters, to name a few. Thanks to competitive pricing on popular SLRs, more digital photography enthusiasts are upgrading from pocket-size cameras to more advanced models, making room for a variety of creative add-ons that enhance the overall user experience. “The most popular digital imaging accessories include software, lens, batteries, cases and Flash cards,” said

Format Wars

The iTunes effect is undeniable in the world of blank media products. As of July, Apple reported more than three billion music files have been downloaded from iTunes, making it the third largest music retailer in the world, surpassing even Amazon. As more consumers turn to digital music sites like iTunes to purchase audio and video, blank media sales may become a bit more precarious. On one hand, CD-Rs and DVD-Rs have become excellent products for backing up digital music libraries. On the other, encouraging digital consumers to revisit a disc format they have given up in favor of digital audio is challenging for

Targeting Tweens

“She’s very into computer games,” said Ann Hoskins-Brown, about her daughter Sarah Charlotte, age 11. The Philadelphia mom is among a growing number of parents who are learning more about consumer technology...from their kids. “Generally, she points things out in a store,” Brown said. Today, Sarah Charlotte has her head buried in a pink Nintendo DS, playing a game called Club Penguin. “It’s a little nerve-wracking since it includes chatting, but I monitor it fairly closely and it seems pretty benign,” Brown said. Sarah Charlotte’s a typical tween. Not only is she interested in more sophisticated entertainment devices than the generations before her, but

CE Goes Green

Every day at 3 p.m., two high school students show up at Gerhard’s Appliances in Glenside, Pa., to do nothing but recycle boxes in a special machine. One hundred boxes a day, in fact. Gerry Gerhard, vice president of the 60-year-old family run business, looks on and smiles at the 10-by-24 foot space the company set up about two years ago for this purpose. While he’s well aware of the impact recycling has on the environment, Gerhard is especially satisfied with the hundreds of thousands of dollars it saves his business each year. “I used to have trash bills,” said Gerhard, who

Up in the Air

It’s a familiar enough scenario. Two industry giants who have been at each other’s throats for the last few years decide to shake hands and play nice. The goal: to join and form one large corporation. The challenge: Convincing everyone else you’re not out to destroy them, while simultaneously asking the FCC to forgive the concessions you made, namely to never merge in the first place. If XM and Sirius, the nation’s only two satellite radio companies, have their way they would operate as one entity, combining only financial assets and programming. On either side of this debate are folks who stand to lose

The New World

The line wraps around the block of South Main Street in East Los Angeles even before the store opens. Latino families wait together, many from Mexico, and South and Central America. Many of these customers are new to the United States, but they’ve already seen a Spanish-language flyer or have been told by a relative where they can go to buy a television, sofa or microwave from someone who speaks their language. That’s how they end up at Dearden’s, a six-floor, one-stop-shop for electronics, furniture, jewelry and travel. While Dearden’s has been in business since 1910, the L.A. chain has been attracting Hispanic customers

Shop Talk

As the big box retailers of the world bulk up their inventory and square footage, Denmark-based Bang & Olufsen is doing business a little differently. The high-end electronics supplier has started rolling out a svelte new retail expansion plan—650-sq.-feet at a time. “Plans are underway for the first of the eight stores to open,” says Kim Gravesen, president of Bang & Olufsen America in Arlington Heights, Ill., in a press statement. The new retail concept will mirror the company’s larger showroom models found around the world by using minimalist Scandinavian design and interactive displays. The new stores also include three home theater set-ups and

The Next Frontier

Mention Internet Protocol (IP) to plenty of custom audio and video installers and you’ll likely solicit a slew of reactions, some of which may not be very kind. While IT professionals have long been hip to digital comeuppance, plenty of CE dealers aren’t necessarily ready to toss aside their speaker wire for what they see as nothing more than a glorified computer network. Whether one likes it or not, this difference of opinion nevertheless signals an important change in the industry compared to just a few short years ago, when the idea of IP-based home entertainment was considered far more theoretical than practical.