** To watch more episodes of The Innovation Project, click here.
For retailers in cities where wilderness can be up to six hours away, as The Benchmark Outfitters‘ owner Richard Kassar estimates is the case for his customers, the issues that shop owners face are a little bit unique.
“The outdoor scene in the Cincinnati area is…not incredibly strong,” Kassar says in the 12th episode of The Innovation Project. How do they adjust? By reaching customers earlier and outfitting them before they make that drive, or before they head to the ski slopes in another state. “I’m helping cool people do cool things with really cool gear. I run a big kids’ toy store, as far as I’m concerned.”
To help give people a reason to come to the store, The Benchmark Outfitters relies on a mixture of solid customer service and a fun environment (where dogs are welcome). They also hold regular in-store garage sale-style swaps that keep customers involved and coming through the doors.
Finding a strong local community of gear enthusiasts might be difficult in a place like Cincinnati, but by getting customers inside, Kassar is still working to foster one.