Customer experiences key to making it work on Main Street

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It’s been four years since Independence, Kansas-based Magnolia Scents’ owner Brian Hight decided to open a second location of his candle, bath, and body products business halfway across the U.S., in Greenville. Today, he says, the Main Street store is still going strong with some lessons learned along the way.

“Some people don’t even know we’re here still,” says Greenville manager Tina Rodgers, who relocated to Greenville four years ago to open and run the store.

The store sees a mix of about 70 percent visitors and 30 percent locals, she says.

Magnolia Scents makes and sells its candles, soaps, and bath and body products from its location at 209 N. Main St. All products are made from natural ingredients, most are plant-based, and the candles are made with soy, according to the business.

There have been many changes over the past four years both inside the store and along Main Street. Rodgers says she’s noticed a shift of foot traffic.

“Since the West End is growing like crazy, not everyone makes their way to the north end,” she says.

But, special events at NOMA Square and guests from the Hyatt help.

“I think it’ll come back around. We just have to ride it out,” she says.

Retail neighbors along Main Street have also changed, says Rodgers, who has noticed more national and retail chains moving in.

“It’s hard for mom-and-pop businesses to make it,” she says.

Rent is high — about eight times the amount for half of the square footage compared with Magnolia Scents’ Independence store, one indicator of the difference in the markets.

Hight says he has worked to build the experience of visiting the store.

“We employ very talented artists, so you can see traces of their beautiful work all over the shop, not just in the handcrafted products,” he explains. “Not only does that make the store feel more homey, we think it actually is an answer to the cookie-cutter, perfect, somewhat-sterile environments created by large national chains. Our shop is built to be hospitable, comfortable, and creative to cater to a clientele that appreciates quality, authenticity, and cool people. Tina gives her staff incredible leeway to make the space their own, and customers can feel that.”

Magnolia Scents has adapted to customers’ needs and now includes a new line of men’s products, more bath bombs, lotions, and soaps, and the ability for customers to bring in their own glass for refills. More classes have been added each week for customers to come in and try their hand at making candles, according to Hight.

“We now book up multiple sessions almost every weekend,” he says. “We noticed that people were looking for more of an experience when they came downtown. They are there to have a good time, not just to buy things, so the classes are a fun way to spend time with friends, be creative, and learn a new skill.”

The store has also added a “smelfie” station for those that want to Instagram their buying experience.

“It’s all about the customer experience now,” Rodgers says. “People can go buy a candle anywhere, in a store or on Amazon; we like to create experiences for our customers.”

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