retail news in context, analysis with attitude

This commentary is available as a video or in text form - the subject is the same, but the content is somewhat different. Enjoy either, or both.

Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy, once again coming to you from Portland, Oregon.

One of the real pleasures of coming to Portland is the chance to spend time at Powell's City of Books, one of the most amazing independent bookstores in the country. When I say "spend time," I mean it. I walk in meaning to spend a few minutes, but somehow it stretches to hours, just wandering the stacks, looking at both the used and new books. I may be an Amazon junkie, but I haven't completely lost my soul.

Powell's has an initiative that I find very interesting, and that could be applicable to other retailing venues...

The retailer has a subscription club that it says "delivers the best new books, with special attention to independent publishers. Signed first editions. Inventive, original sets. Exclusive printings.... "

Every six weeks, subscribers get a package of books, as well as things like cookies and other goodies from local purveyors. The charge is $39.95 per shipment .... which, apparently, thousands of people are willing to pay for items over which they have no control.

Sort of like the wine clubs to which I belong. I don't control what they send me, but I trust that they're going to send me great stuff, which they almost always do, and I end up getting educated in ways that I might not have otherwise.

Same with the Powell's program. People are putting faith in the bookstore that they are going to be challenged, illuminated and entertained by their choices.

That's a lot of faith to put in any retailer ... but in a lot of ways, that's the kind of relationship that a retailer of almost any venue should be aiming for.

Imagine if your store had a list of people who were willing to pay real money to be send products that they believed would make their lives better, more interesting, more rewarding. Of course, that would be a pretty heavy load for the retailer to carry .... but wouldn't it be worth it?

Especially for an independent retailer, facing competition on all sides and trying to figure how to create a differential advantage?

I think so.

You can check out the Powell's program, by the way, by clocking here.

That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

As always, you can access the archive of FaceTime commentaries on the MorningNewsBeat Channel on YouTube by clicking here.

KC's View: