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Ep. 3: The Staying Power of Brick-and-Mortar Retail Shopping

Episode 3: The Staying Power of Brick-and-Mortar Retail Shopping


In this episode, hosts Christine Wright and Trevor Lewis discuss the naming of the podcast and the nostalgic reference to retail. They then explore the staying power of brick-and-mortar stores and the trend of direct-to-consumer brands transitioning into physical retail. The importance of visual storytelling in sales presentations is highlighted, along with personal experiences in retail. The hosts give shout outs to brands with impactful Super Bowl ads and share lessons learned and advice for their younger selves. The episode concludes with Trevor’s “Memo to Myself” and Christine’s “I am” for the day plus a preview of the next episode on display design.


  • Brick-and-mortar stores are still a significant part of the retail landscape, with direct-to-consumer brands transitioning into physical retail.
  • Visual storytelling is crucial in sales presentations, as it helps to engage and persuade buyers.
  • Personal experiences in retail can provide valuable insights and inspiration for improving the customer experience.
  • Super Bowl ads offer a unique opportunity for brands to make a big impact and reach a wide audience.
  • Reflecting on past experiences and offering advice to younger selves can provide valuable lessons and insights.


00:00 Introduction and Naming of the Podcast

03:15 The Staying Power of Brick-and-Mortar Stores

07:37 The Importance of Visual Storytelling in Sales Presentations

10:22 Personal Experiences in Retail

13:23 Segment: Shout Outs to Brands with Impactful Super Bowl Ads

16:28 Segment: Lessons Learned and Advice for Younger Selves

28:09 Conclusion and Preview of Next Episode


Episode 3: Transcript

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (00:00.82)

Attention shoppers back to back blue light special on aisle 57 and 58.

Welcome to Blue Light Special, the podcast for CPG brand marketers who want to lighten up their hustle in retail and real life I'm Christine Wright. I'm Trevor Lewis. We're here to decode the mysteries of retail and give you some insider hacks to make your brand talk the show. Let's get into this week's episode.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (00:28.014)

Welcome everyone. On today's episode, we explore the staying power of brick-and-mortar store shopping. And we thought we'd kick off this episode by answering a question posed by one of our listeners. Very exciting. How did you come up with Blue Light Special as a name? Oh goodness. Well, it kind of started with, you know, wanting something a bit nostalgic, uh, some historical reference to retail. You know, obviously there's a lot of podcasts that are continuously being launched.

We wanted to be interesting, different. We certainly leveraged AI to help as thought-starters. That was fun. Yes. And we went through a bunch of them, right? And so, you know, just leveraging different prompts. And then we saw Blue Light Special. At that time, I had no idea what it meant, but I know Christina was like, that's it, that's it. I had to educate you on what Blue Light Special really was. You did. I had no idea. I think when we started doing kind of prompts and AI, we wanted to say retail without really saying retail. And as soon as blue light special popped up, because I knew what it was, and immediately that nostalgia from childhood being in Kmart and just the blue light going off and the racing to whatever special that was, was just complete awesomeness. I couldn't get past it and that definitely spoke retail to me.

It definitely did. And then once I was educated on it, then we would start to just, you know, Google reference imagery and whatnot. And so I clearly now understand what Blue Light Special means, how it worked within Kmart. And so after that, it was like, what is the kind of the look and feel that we wanted to achieve?

And yeah, we something that just kind of popped up was like the look and feel of like Saved by the Bell, right? Which is more nostalgia for me. Again, definitely nostalgia. Then it even made more sense because it's leaning into this blue light special, which has a nostalgic, you know, feel and reminders for everyone. And so that was ultimately kind of how we came through it. I know kind of as we were Googling and having fun with it, Supermarket Sweep came up when we were Googling and that brought a lot of laughs.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (02:45.71)

So it was fun to really come up with the name. I know when I actually was asked this question kind of pre -launch from a customer and I first said, you know, blue light special in Kmart, it was almost taboo because Walmart is the big thing now. And when I started to explain where it came from and the nostalgia and the remembrances from childhood, I think it really resonated. Well, that's the story. That's how we did it. So hopefully that answers the individual that request.

A little bit more insight on how we, how we did it. All right. So let's jump into our first segment of the day. Uh, this segment is heard on the streets. So again, working side by side with retailers and brands on the daily, we know, uh, the, the know when it comes to trends. So Christine, what's a, what's a trend you've been paying attention to? Well, I will say just kind of pointing in the direction of the pandemic and what came out of that. Everyone started to jump on the band.

Brick-and-mortar is dead, which obviously we know now is absolutely not the case at all. There kind of was this retail apocalypse, but brick and mortar didn't die. It just changed into something new to us. But now it's more the norm. I will say for all of the transformation brought by the web, brick and mortar shopping still makes up 84 % of retail. So that's huge. Yes. And

What I see from the trend is now you're finding, and it's really in the emerging brand arena, a lot of direct -to -consumer brands are starting to make that lifecycle change into brick and mortar. And that's a big leap. So you're having online shopping move to retail brick and mortar shopping for those emerging brands. For the more established brands, it's not even just omnichannel anymore. It's omni -commerce.

Wherever in the customer journey someone is making that purchase. It could be online at a website It could be in app it could be in store or for me I might Go online and look at some prices, but I don't know enough about the product and I physically want to talk to an expert So I'll go into the store and do my research and come back out of the store and the purchase is then eventually done online But brands don't know where that's going to happen. So they have to be in every single channel.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (05:11.706)

Yeah, so in app e -commerce, in -store, those are definitely the areas when we're consulting with clients that we kind of help them, how do we tell that story right? And so I think definitely retail is not dead, physical retail, brick and is definitely not dead. Recently Walmart announced plans to build or convert 150 stores over the next five years, which is a testament that it's not dead. They're also going to be remodeling over 650 stores in the next 12 months. And so that's one retailer. We know that they're obviously a big player in that physical space. So that's some things that they're doing. I also seen that Dollar General plans the 800 new store openings as well, including 30 pop shelf openings that targets the higher end shopper looking for deals in addition to around 1500 remodels for 2024. What's on their schedule. Another one.

In the rural area market, Tractor Supply announces upcoming that it's going to be opening new stores around 80 of those in 2024, as well as the PetSense by Tractor Supply. They look to establish 10 to 15 more of those. Then you look at the grocery sector. All these plans open another 120 new stores, as well as they're purchasing 400, not purchasing, they're looking at store associates with the Southeastern Grocer, the parent company of Wynn, Dixie and Harvey's. And then I think what's also interesting is just the Lowe's. I don't know if you've seen Lowe's and kind of the combining pet pop-up stores. In rural areas. Definitely a lot that's happening. Anything else that you've heard? I actually read today that Target is going to add 300 stores over the next 10 years. I know it sounds like a long time, but 300 Target stores is a lot.

That is a lot. So let's move on to our show and tell where Trevor and I share our most recent personal experiences in retail. Trevor, what do you have for today? You know, I think this is for, you know, all of the brands that are seeking ongoing conversations with category buyers, but it really speaks specifically to the emerging brands. This is often a new environment for them to go and present.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (07:37.664)

Their SKUs, tell their story, help the buyer understand how they're going to drive sell through. And so, you know, one of the things that's been interesting is to think about that setting. That setting of meeting with a buyer has changed kind of a definitely, you know, post pandemic where it's often you're on a Zoom or Teams and you don't, you're not necessarily in front of them in person. And so I think a lot of brands have been looking at how are we telling that story and what does that look like?

Sales presentation and our sales decks. And so we've seen ourselves assisting more and more in that arena, helping them develop how their products are going to be shown on shelf in preparation for those buyer meetings so they can go in there and tell that story, not only just articulating it to the buyer, but also visually showing the ongoing merchandising and how it's going to be supported and drive sales through. And I think what's interesting is,

I think there's a stat out there, like 55% of humans are visual learners. So when you think about telling that story and making sure you got the right visuals to help support the story that you're trying to pitch to the buyer is critically important. And I think we're going to continue to see more and more of how do we show with them as well.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (08:57.294)

Yeah, I actually had a client today that I've been working with and it's their first pitch into Walmart helping with their initial deck and their initial presentation, giving them a little guidance and some visuals. We did some renderings, but they're all out of state and they don't have representation in Bentonville and I'm only a few hours away. So they asked, would you go in our place, set our display prototype and help walk through as we're doing that meeting. And so that's just a service that we offer.

That's phenomenal. Yeah, definitely the, the change of the setting, right. Um, is something that I think all brands have to pay attention to now. Oftentimes these are, you know, national account managers. It may not be the marketing team that's, you in the meeting with the buyer as well. And so they're working together to make sure that, you know, they're representing the brand. They're telling the story, um, and achieving everyone's, uh, goals.

It's been an interesting trend, but I honestly think we're just starting to see the beginning of it because these buyers want to see ideas. They want to see some insight. Show me something new. Show me something new. Show me something different. And to our point earlier, retail's not going anywhere. It's continuing to evolve. And so if you're wanting to show, it's important to show a buyer something different that they may not have recognized before. Well, for me, my show and tell from my experiences out in retail this week,

Actually, it was a few weeks ago, I was going to Best Buy to take my son for a gaming monitor, which I know absolutely nothing about, but it's one of those instances where I didn't know, so I didn't want to make the purchase online. I wanted to go ask an expert. And we pull up to the Best Buy, the closest one to our house. We start to walk in and there's an employee standing outside saying, I'm sorry, we're closing the doors. You're going to have to go to the next town over to that Best Buy.

Which I thought was a little odd that, I mean, just the customer experience of there was no forewarning. There was no like clearance. Closing for good. And we actually sat in the car and thought maybe he was just joking with us and watched other people, but no, he was standing outside and wouldn't let anybody in. And so we did go to the next town over and I did learn, thank goodness I didn't buy what I was going to online and learned all kinds of information and tech savvy stuff to buy the right gaming computer. 

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (11:21.198)

But then I.came in the next week and read online that Best Buy's initiative in the next year is to close large stores and open smaller format digital first stores in the same area, in the same town. Maybe not that same location, but they're just shutting them down. But the customer experience of immediate shutdown was a little odd, a little odd for me. And the other experience I had, you joined me and our owner, Randy, joined us and we walked the concept store in Elm Springs down in Arkansas. I think it's 4108. I've experienced before and you have, but Randy hadn't and it's really kind of fun to watch someone's reaction.

Any stores actually down in the Walmart Bentonville area. I the first thing he said when we walked in was just the lighting and the ambiance and it actually smelled clean and nice and refreshing and just the whole customer experience is really being taken into consideration when they're remodeling these stores. It really is. And again, just kind of because that was top of mind on that, that, uh, that venture that we went on with Mr. Edge and of course we're looking at all the new technology, the different things that they're testing in there as well, but like you, I love seeing someone's behavior and experience, watch how they experience the store in general, but specifically when we was going there, I was excited and it definitely lived up to it and was able to give us.

And give him just a glimpse of some of the things that's, you know, that what they're testing and playing with and exploring. Um, and then I think we immediately kind of come back and he was, you know, see touch feeling, which is cool. And, um, just a great experience for sure. And so thanks for taking us on that journey, but I always love going in there to see what's, what's new, what's, what's shiny and what can we learn from that?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (13:23.022)

All right. So it's time for this week. Shout outs. We love to acknowledge brands getting it right. So Christine, who is on your radar this week? Well, I am going to continue with some further acknowledgments of the impact that brands had on the Super Bowl this year between our hometown Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. It was the longest Super Bowl game and it will also go down as the most watched program in television history up 7 % from last year. And it was sheer madness. I know in Kansas City, so I can believe that.

The Swifties were no doubt a big part of the audience for ads and this was a gold mine and I just noticed brands that had advertising for the very first time ever. Elf Beauty was one of them and Poppy, which is the kind of probiotic soda. I'm a consumer of that. But just could you imagine if that's the first time that you decided, hey, I'm really going to pull the trigger. We're going to do a big spend. $7 million price tag or something like that. And money well spent on that Super Bowl. That's no doubt. Absolutely. Yeah. There was obviously it's one of, you know, everyone's favorite time is if you're actually going to consume commercials, that's when you do it. That's why I used to only watch the Super Bowl for commercials. Not anymore, but now the cheaps are good. Because, and that's why, you know, those were great investments for them is because, you know, I'm not sure that there's other commercials that you'd place that type of bet on. But definitely Super Bowl commercials because of just the attention there was super cool. I also was observing just what was kind of happening leading up to the event specifically in I guess, and I don't know if you've seen this or not, but the...

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (15:04.142)

The Luxor Hotel is shaped similar to a pyramid. In this case, it was shaped like a Dorito. That's crazy. And actually branded the entire outside of that thing to be a Dorito just because of its triangular shape. So the person I really want to speak to is, how did you get that budget approved? Yeah, I just want to, who threw that idea out there? I who had enough guests to say, I want to wrap the Luxor in a Dorito chip. Genius, a genius play.

So we're, we're fascinated with not only that the idea, how it came about, but someone please share with us. Who approved that budget? Because I can only imagine the level of impressions that it got. I'm sure that it benchmark and showed some level of ROI, which is definitely difficult to do in that type of setting, but a phenomenal brand experience for sure. And I think what's important for all of these brands to kind of take away when you see something like that is budget and you've got to continuously push the boundaries and in this case it's not gonna work but when it does oh yeah it's big payoff yes so definitely kudos to Doritos yes and I'm not sure I'd want to be the person installing that graphic graph on that thing either I thought about that I'm terrified of heights so maybe that's why I was like no way not my job description on that job well done yes.

Okay, I would like to introduce a new segment for this episode called We Didn't Go To School For This. It's where we relay what we would tell our 25 year old selves now that we know what we know. And Trevor, it took me a long time to get to the point to know what I know now. 25 years, 25 year old self was a long time ago for me. My journey started, I do have a marketing degree, not that I intentionally used it along the way, but creativity and marketing has always just been kind of my jive and that's what I really like to do. I started out in the print world. I started out in just flat POP signage and I landed the Walmart account way back in the 1900s as my kids call it, like it's the pioneer days. But what I learned early on was figure it out.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (17:24.27)

Don't say no, because when I landed that account and I was in print shop, they wanted me to pass on all of the opportunities that didn't fit that equipment. And that was a lot of opportunities. I couldn't do it. My drive was servicing the client and getting things done and making it happen for them. So my 25 year old self, I was probably my 30 year old self at that point, ventured out and started my own company with that account. Not really knowing a whole lot that every time they asked me to do something, I figured it out.

I figured out screen printing and flexo printing and die cutting and corrugate and plastics and the vac form, whatever it was, I figured it out. So that was something I learned very, very early on. I continued on and just kept that path and kept that customer base and kept Walmart all of these years. But I kept it kind of in the two dimensional realm, a little bit of displays here and there until I reached IDD.

And realized I need to take that leap and just do displays across the board, no matter what material it is, just say yes and service the customer. And that's what I learned from my 25-year-old. So that's great. And I've always admired your ability just to be a trusted resource as well. And, you know, I've watched and observed from far. So sometimes that's you making a referral or introduction to someone else that could better suit their needs per se. But.

Thanks for sharing that. I think that that's great. I always like hearing that, that story and hearing more about how you've navigated that. Mine's a little bit different. You know, right out of college, I went to Avila University, which is a small school here in Kansas City. And about my junior year, I had started to, you know, think about what I want to, at that time, I'm starting to think what I want it to be when I grow up.

And so I had this idea of like starting to consult with companies and social media. So this is like at the very beginning of Facebook. didn't know that. That's interesting. When Facebook was starting to, you know, at the individual level, everyone had kind of started to adopt Facebook. Companies were starting to consider it, but most of them were like, you know, no, we're just not there. We don't need a Facebook page yet.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (19:45.032)

But in college, we thought that, you know, we can show that our efforts of promoting this on Facebook will dramatically impact your revenue because we could tag that we just checked in here, which was one of the bigger features back in the days. It's amazing that you guys figured that out. I mean, back then. Well, we figured it out in a couple of sectors near the university, one of them being a liquor store. Oh, well, that's a perfect place to check in at a college university. So we've done.

And we started to kind of consult just other mostly restaurants and or the liquor stores kind of around K -N -C because we could say, hey, we've checked in here. We can show you and get other foot traffic in your door and we'll be able to quantify that by the amount of check -ins because that's just going to create awareness. But not only are you going to get it's kind of influencer, I guess. But that was kind of the start. And so we've done that. We pitched other companies and we went into this coming.

Skyline exhibits and we you know we had our you know put together little suits and we're going in here pitching them on that they should start to pick up social media marketing and at the end of the discussion they said you know this was great we're a small company we're just not there yet but you know we would be interested in having ongoing conversations with with you but not on social media, would you be interested in working for us? And so I said, well, I would be because I really, this thing doesn't really make money. And I have a daughter on the way. So I needed to figure out really fast. And so that's ultimately, I joined Skyline exhibits. I think I graduated like May 12th and went to work for them in May 17th. So there wasn't too much time, but it was business development. So my job at that point was.

Setting meetings for the president. So a small company, the president was still, you know, had accounts and was still in functioning in his sales role. But my job was to set meetings for the president and the vice president as both of them were doing sales. So I did that. I enjoyed it. I would start to figure out some modern ways of going about it, you know, prospecting a lot of phone calls, phone calls, a lot of emails, a lot of knocking on doors. So you've done the boots on the ground. So boots on the ground. And so that was kind of how...

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (22:06.35)

in that it's kind of exhibits you know they ultimately would provide trade show exhibits so there's a level of consulting on the design there's a level of consult because these exhibits would get deployed at large national conventions, even international exhibits as well. So what I didn't know when I first started is I loved going in and learning about a business and then helping them tell their story outside of their four walls. And then we would go through designs, we'd develop these designs, then we would produce the designs, and so we'd set these exhibits up. So being able to see that idea come to fruition,

Simply an idea to here it is inside this huge convention center in Vegas or Orlando or wherever else I love that part of it and every project was slightly different and so I at that point I knew this is what I want to do Within the trade show exhibits. There's there's some limitations Because ultimately not everyone buys the trade shows of every year I mean oftentimes you would buy it and keep using it for five to ten years and so I started to look as a to kind of make my next move. I wanted to do something that was a little bit more of an opportunity. And so you kind of look, even if you look at players in our space, they often do, you know, trade show exhibits and retail. And so I found a company that was looking to grow in that front cells. I met our president, CEO and owner, Mr. Edge. And he was still telling me a little bit about his vision of in -store design, displaying what he wanted to accomplish. And I was sharing a little bit about my expertise and what I was trying to accomplish.

We had some dialogue for a while and he ultimately said, Hey, are you going to join me? And I said, yeah. And so here we are getting snatched up by companies. Yeah, here we are. And that was in 2017. And so I am definitely don't claim to be a, you know, an expert on everything that we do here. Luckily I got great support staff around that are experts. But I love the, I, you know, developing and working with someone to create an idea, produce that idea.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (24:15.348)

And help tell their brand story outside of their four walls So it's a lot of similarities with trade show exhibits and retail displays The big difference is we produce a display, you know at scale So for us, it's 500 plus times where the you know in the trade show world, we would ultimately produce it typically once So that's a little bit about how I got here if I was gonna tell my 25 year old self, I'd say You know the the closer you can get to impacting revenue the you're gonna be. I will agree 100 % with that. Yeah the better your job security is gonna be. Exactly. For sure and I was fortunate I kind of fell into that, figured it out. Now I know how important that is and that would be definitely something I would continue to you know share with my younger self. I agree 100%. And for our last segment today we wanted to continue to give you a little glimpse into our own minds. We've all had those moments where we reflect, we learn.

We remind ourselves of certain truths. For me, it's memo to myself, and for Christine, it's her I am for the day. It's a chance for us to be a bit vulnerable, share our thoughts, and maybe some of it will resonate with you.

So today my memo to myself was I want to be an advocate within my fringe group and my community on the importance of proactive wellness checkups. You know, I recently went to the dermatologist and that was my first experience. And so I wanted to share that with, you know, the people that are close to me because I know that it's not something that men historically have done has been very proactive with their wellness checkups and not only was that a unique experience going to the dermatologist, fortunately I checked out okay. But you went on your own. Yes I went on my own. You chose to do that. Yes I definitely chose to do that and you know I just want to advocate for that and so that was the memo to myself is lowering the you know the concern or

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (26:14.926)

Is this not going to be a manly thing to do and just advocate for those around me to go and be proactive with your wellness checkups? Well, my I am for the day and my I am comes from just in case you haven't listened to the previous podcast, I have a group of kind of accountability partners, some ladies, my tribes. And every morning we text each other and say, what are you today? And what is your I am statement? And I usually have, you know, I've choose two or three words for the day.

But today something caught my eye on social media and I actually made a post on LinkedIn about this today. I am crazy And although it applies there is a reason behind that There was a Nike ad that kind of played off of Steve Jobs quote the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do and We have a power to make a difference and it was Nike I was more towards just strong and empowering women whether it be in sports or business or whatever It's kind of are you crazy enough for D? Are you strong enough to make that leap and to make a difference and I definitely am in some areas So if someone calls me crazy, I consider it a compliment Most definitely I agree. So and thanks for continuing to share those with us I always enjoy hearing, you know your I am and just definitely that I can't wait to get to because I'm always just curious. And so thanks for sharing with us today. All right. Well, that's all for this week, folks. So we're definitely grateful to have you along for the ride as we lighten up your hustle through retail and real life. Thanks for listening and keep your questions and comments coming. We love tuning in to what you want to know about helping your brand stand out in store. Stay tuned for next week's episode where we cover.

To nail your display design with tips from our first ever guests Jackie Barra, Director of Design Operations at InStore Design Display. I'm excited about this one. I'm very excited. Jackie may not be, but I'm very excited. This podcast is a production of InStore Design Display, the go-to expert for guiding your in-store experience.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (28:32.174)

Our wordsmith, Julie Edge, and mix master, Jackie Berra, make all of this possible. So a big thanks to them and the entire team at InStore Design Display. Stay tuned for our next episode on YouTube or wherever you consume podcasts. We'd love to hear from our listeners, so please drop us a line and tell us what you want to hear about retail and real life.


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