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What’s In Store?

My wife won’t believe this when she reads it but I don’t really mind shopping. Most men hate it. And honestly, if I were responsible for buying my two boys underwear and sweatpants and Nike and Under Armour t-shirts, which is pretty much all they wear, I’d probably not like shopping.

But I mostly limit my shopping to the online variety; I’d say 90 percent of it. We are an Amazon Prime family. For tech I love Newegg. Our dog food comes from Chewy. Even our organic fruits and vegetables come from Door-To-Door Organics.

Yes, that makes us lazy, but it also makes us efficient, and it probably doesn’t endear me to the traditional brick-and-mortar retailers that I cover on a regular basis.

But honestly, I have no interest in walking through a Target, or a Walmart or our club of choice, BJ’s.

That being said, I still appreciate a good brick-and-mortar retail experience. I enjoy browsing in Best Buy, for its excellent curation of today’s latest tech, and its emphasis on variety.

I still enjoy walking through Bed Bath & Beyond, because it often inspires me to upgrade my kitchen or tackle a new recipe.

I love Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and Apple Stores.

The common thread of all of these retailers is an emphasis on selection and a similar approach to display and merchandising.

When you can walk through a store and can think of a dozen reasons you may need whatever you are browsing, that store is doing its job — mostly of separating you from your money — but more importantly, giving you solutions to the everyday challenges of life.

Maybe that product on display will entertain me, or help me make dinner quicker, or be the perfect gift for my niece’s wedding. But the bottom line is, when faced with a decision like that, from a retailer who knows what its doing, I throw out my prejudices of price or buyer’s remorse and I make the purchase, sometime against my better instincts.

It’s how I got my 65-inch curved TV (sorry honey.)

Our second Annual Retail Innovations Awards are designed to call out those retailers that are raising the bar on the retail experience. I think its telling that this year’s choices are all (but one) primarily brick-and-mortar chains.

Best Buy’s resurgence under Hubert Joly has been remarkable and their in-store experience has become a benchmark for the big-box channel.

Lowe’s has lapped the home-improvement channel by emphasizing smart appliances and being a pioneer in the connected home category.

JCPenney has completely redefined the department store experience by taking its new major appliance assortment one step above the category stalwart, Sears.

And I’m guessing most of you haven’t been to a Pirch store but if you have you realize that they have set a bar for retailers that is, as Donald Trump would say, “yuge.” It’s not just shopping, it’s that experience you remember from the first time you went to an IKEA or a Stew Leonard’s. It’s just pure fun.

Check out our Special Report starting. And get out there and shop!