Relax … we’re not talking about you personally!
In looking through some old newsletters this week, I ran across one that we wrote more than 13 years ago. I couldn’t help but laugh at how I wrote back then. But, the story we wrote about resonates as well today as it did back then. The retail market is more competitive than ever, and we’ve seen a number of well-known brands bite the dust. So, sit back and enjoy a real life story from 2004!
So you’ve been around for quite some time now and while things can always be better you’ve enjoyed your fair share of the good times. You believe you know your customer, your staff and your operation as well as any other retailer. You might even be a category leader and the darling of the market place.
What do you do now? Take a little breather? Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your past efforts? Begin to distance yourself from your operation and take on the role of elder statesman? Consider the story of Eckerd Drugstores, recently featured in The St. Petersburg Times. An unfortunate, but all too common tale:
“As the two major companies that bought Eckerd Corp. (CVS and Canada’s Jean Coutu Group) pick over the remains of the once-proud Florida chain, it’s easy to forget what an amazing American success story Eckerd once was.
Eckerd’s sale, after the company’s years of declines, is a stunning business tale — a story of how a company that revolutionized the pharmacy business slid steadily from its place as smart innovator to a firm that was way too slow to keep up with rapidly changing technology and unable to transform itself beyond a frantically assembled patchwork quilt of disparate smaller chains.
Charismatic Jack Eckerd’s creation was a model for the modern American drugstore. The chain became the go-to druggist in retiree-rich Florida in the 1960s after it pioneered senior citizen discounts for prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. Eckerd’s two-prints-for-the-price-of-one deal turned photo processing into a profit center rather than just a traffic generator. The chain’s array of store label merchandise – everything from Eckerd Aspirin to Advantage oscillating fans and Wheat-a-Vim vitamins – became such quality names that customers ranked them with nationally advertised brands.
Over the course of a century Jack Eckerd and his family parlayed collections of small local chains into a fortune and a colossus that at its peak was the nation’s second largest drugstore operator, before J.C. Penney Co. finally threw in the towel after seven unsettled years of ownership.”
It’s not hard to see the moral of this story, is it?