Coffee, chiropractic care, therapy all in one place

Filed under: Retail |

Can you think of a better way to relax while waiting for a massage or chiropractic appointment than sipping on a coffee or an espresso?

Jamie Chaffin and Tamara Steinbach hope the answer is no.

The pair opened Brew Me Coffee Lounge last weekend in a quaint downtown house at 22 E. Monument St. Steinbach’s Peak Health Chiropractic office occupies one room, Saline Peters, owner of Key Therapeutics, has another room and the coffee lounge is in the main room.

In addition to their existing clients, they also hope to attract college students and business professionals who work nearby.

“We recently discovered that our building has excellent acoustics,” Chaffin said. “We plan to offer an open mic night on Tuesday and Saturday nights. We also have a private area we plan to open up for large groups such as singles groups and church groups.”

Chaffin said that she and her partner are hoping to create an environment that is a “cozy hometown kind of place, like hanging out at a friend’s house.”

Carts that entertain

Shopping carts featuring a television monitor showing “Bob the Builder” and “Barney” videos might be a great baby sitter for parents, but they are showing minimal benefits for grocers.

High-tech shopping carts that display video ads and recipe tips were created in hopes of keeping shoppers in stores longer. But grocers have seen little immediate effect on their bottom lines.

And if grocers don’t see a bump in sales, high-tech carts will quickly become expendable, said Dave Hogan, chief information officer of the National Retail Federation.

“There has to be a business rationale,” Hogan said. “A customer might think it’s kind of cool, but there’s got to be a payback. And they’re not proving their payback yet.”

Cabco Group Ltd. of New Zealand makes the TV Karts. So far, more than 2,000 TV Karts have been deployed at supermarkets in eight states, mostly in the Midwest.

Publix and Wal-Mart are among the chains testing their popularity.

For $1, shoppers can rent the brightly colored carts, which play an hour-long DVD of whichever children’s television show adorns the side — “Barney,” “Bob the Builder” or “The Wiggles.”

The carts look like a toy car and a common complaint from parents is the limited space for groceries.

The $1,500 entertainment system on wheels has rechargeable batteries and an anti-theft device.

A Subway on every corner

Perhaps someday there will be a Subway on every corner, next to all the Starbucks.

But so far, the company’s growth has come mostly within convenience stores and Wal-Marts.

During a span of two months this summer, Subway opened 340 new restaurants in 35 countries. Among them were 208 locations in 39 U.S. states and seven Canadian provinces.

Of those new franchises, one opened in a conventional supermarket, Ray’s Sure Save Grocery Store in Waymart, Pa.; 37 opened within convenience stores; and 64 inside Wal-Mart stores.

According to the company, franchisees reached a milestone of 6,000 international locations. Stateside, the goal of 400 stores in Alabama was also met during the summer.

With minimal equipment needs and flexible space requirements, Subway also hit a milestone of 6,000 nontraditional locations, such places as grocery stores, airports, amusement parks and hospitals.

Subway has more than 26,400 locations in 85 countries, making it the largest submarine sandwich franchise in the world.

August retail shows gains

Summer vacations, back-to-school shopping and end of season clearance promotions motivated consumers to hit the stores last month.

According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for August (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) rose 6.5 percent compared to last year and increased 0.3 percent when seasonally adjusted compared to July.

August retail sales, released by the U.S. Commerce Department, showed total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 6.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year and 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from July.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores, benefiting from the back-to-school promotions and end of summer sales, saw sales rise 7.3 percent unadjusted from last August, while showing a slight decrease of 0.3 percent from the prior month. Furniture and home furnishings stores also saw an increase, 6.4 percent unadjusted from last year, and a decrease of 0.3 percent compared to the prior month.

Health and personal care stores had an impressive showing in August, increasing 0.6 percent from July and 7.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music store sales rose 0.8 percent month-to-month and 6.5 percent unadjusted from August 2005.

The consumer electronics category was a major performer during the back-to-school selling season. Sales in electronics and appliances stores increased 0.1 percent from the prior month and 4.9 percent unadjusted from last August.

Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers continued to show steady growth despite the slowing housing market. Sales were up 0.1 percent from the prior month and 7.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

NRF estimates that combined back-to-school and back-to-college sales were $54.2 billion this year.

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.