It’s refreshing to see proactive retail newsagents trying their best with ways in which to engage/attract new customers. There are many Victorian Newsagents that deserve recognition and therefore VANA believes by identifying these newsagents and advising you how they operate , it will provide newsagents a different perspective to what they are doing differently to you.
VANA will write an article monthly labelled VANA Newsagent of the Month, which will identify a newsagent in our industry that VANA believes, is unique, different or better in attracting new customers. VANA would like to share these unique ideas so as to help our members become better retailers.
For our first article, VANA would like to share a unique concept and the excellent work of Nextra Mill Park owned and operated by Linda and Mick Baker.
Nextra Mill Park place customer service at the highest priority, offering friendly and inviting environment. Aiming to create a retail destination in their community, Nextra Mill Park delivers an exciting environment for their customers by having a range of services in store. Recently Nextra Mill Park added an Ice Cream/Café within the newsagency; as they saw an opportunity that was lacking in their local area.
As you can see by the photos in the article, they offer a number of different services to consumers creating a one-stop-shop experience. Just to list some of these services are:
- Australia Post
- Newsagency (Magazines, Home Delivery, Cards, Stationery)
- Most recently the Ice Cream/Café.
What drew VANA’s attention and praise was not only that they had done this remarkable transformation but also how seamless the integration of all these services under the one roof.
What is even more remarkable is that Linda and Mick are fairly new to the industry. They purchased the Mill Park newsagency consisting Tattslotto and Post Office in October 2010. Neither, Michael nor Linda had any retail experience, having both come from 25 years in Law enforcement; they basically decided overnight for a change.
“We went into partnership with my sister and brother-in-law who don’t work in the business as both are engineers who were employed elsewhere at the time. It was and still is a steep learning curve”.
WHY THE CHANGE?
The newsagency was a traditional newsagency with heavy focus on newspapers and magazines. They realised fairly early on that things needed to change as both of these main focus items were in decline. They cut back space and volume of magazines and introduced giftware, jewellery, books and toys. They incorporated the Nextra branded store as this was important due to their lack of retail experience. The Nextra group have helped them tremendously with suppliers, promotional advertising and marketing.
However with the economic conditions still affecting retail, they still needed to do something to help the bottom line. They considered various options in an attempt to re-invent themselves and the business.
After doing some research in the local area they decided on something that was unique to the newsagency business and something exciting to the local community.
The ice creamery was born. No other shop in the immediate vicinity sold ice creams, soft serves, frozen yoghurt etc. so they designed a concept around that. They sacrificed 12 square metres of shop floor space and set about their idea. After receiving approval from the shopping centre Body Corporate, Local Council and the building Landlord, they then selected an Ice Cream supplier (Norgen Vaz). After several weeks of disruption the final product was ready.
The area previously contained slat wall display of John Sands Cards and giftware so further re- organisation took place so that the cards and giftware were still displayed in a satisfactory fashion. The Ice Creamery was named ‘Lindys’ and is set up in such a fashion that customers can be served from within the shop or via the counter accessed from the outside courtyard.
They currently can produce everything a Wendy’s or Boost Juice store can produce, 20 flavours of ice cream, milk/thick shakes, soft serve ice cream, smoothies (both milk based and lactose free), hot chocolate, slushies, hot dogs, coffee and hot roast rolls. They will continue to develop and refine their product lines as demand dictates. They also purchased cafe style outdoor tables, chairs and umbrellas so the buyer can sit in comfort.
The reaction from their customers has been extremely encouraging with about 95% of them seeing it as a positive move. They have introduced a loyalty card program attached to the purchase of an ice cream or drink and already some customers are on their third card. They also have cross promotional specials that complement each department.
Coffee promotion from the Newsagent counter promoting coffee and Newspaper deal.
They also offer free sampling and free WIFI to their customers.
Unfortunately, with delays in materials and construction, they missed the bulk of summer but going on feedback from the locals this coming summer could be busy as they satisfy the residents of Mill Park and surrounds with their favourite ice cream flavour.