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Last week I met a guy named Harry. I met Harry on the shopfloor of a leading independent retailer and I liked him immediately. Harry is a man of very few words, and yet he spoke volumes about the business. What he told me was just how proactive this particular business was. He showed me that retail can be fun, that promotion doesn't always have to be about price and, importantly, he highlighted the effect of a bit of 'retail theatre'.

Oh, and Harry is a dummy.

I'm not being deliberately rude, it's just that Harry is made of plastic... He's less of a man and more of a mannequin - a faithful promotional tool located just inside the entrance of hardware and tool specialist Isaac Lord in High Wycombe. (which happens to be Britain's Best Tool Retailer - see DIY Week Page 13 out today).

Harry is the perfect example of effective 'retail theatre' (the words of Isaac Lord md Andrew Weiss). He immediately catches your eye as you walk in the entrance, he can be used to display different stock items, from the workwear he's modelling to the tools he's holding (a snow shovel in the big freeze for example, or a broom in the case of my visit), he can be changed regularly and easily, so there's always something new and different for customers to see, and, at the risk of further offending him, he's cheap.

This is not a big investment in cash terms - it's simply an ingenious and fun way to engage with customers and create a point of interest.

And engage with him they do, some taking it to greater lengths than others: "We've actually had customers queuing behind him," says Mr Weiss. Definitely a customer experience to remember,and to recall Isaac Lord to mind the next time they set out on a DIY shopping trip.
It just shows: Harry may be a dummy, but not only smarties have the answer.
View User Profile for Will Parsons Blog entries from Will Parsons, former editor of DIY Week and

Posted by Will Parsons | 14 January 2011 | 10:27 | More from: Will Parsons' blog


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