Local Retailers Find Ways to Compete with Internet Shopping

Monday, December 13th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The holiday retail business is picking up for area retailers. Three malls in the Tulsa area say this past weekend’s business was booming. However, many shoppers stayed at home and shopped on-line. In response to the e-shopping boom, retail stores and malls are promoting their services as well as products.

It's a sight that store owners and managers like to see -- shoppers carrying bags full of gifts. "I like the mall because you can try all the clothes on,” said one shopper. “Plus you have a variety of shops to choose from." Some husbands seem to like the mall better, too. We found one husband holed up in the food court. "I can come in the food court, read, eat, and relax while my wife goes shopping," he said.

But some people choose to stay at home and shop on-line. To reach these consumers, retail stores are marketing to the five senses. Meg Groves, manager of the Elephant Trunk, says retail shopping offers a hands-on advantage to the consumer. “You can touch it,” she said. “You can see what's inside of it and you can check out the features of the product. School children learn better with hands-on. I think shoppers do better if they come in and have the hands-on experience with whatever product they're interested," Groves explained.

Ed Taylor, owner of The Mark-It, says when customers walk in his store, he wants customers to act like they’re inside a pinball machine. “I want them to have fun,” he said. "We want our stores to be exciting.” Taylor’s counting on that exciting experience to keep his younger, computer literate customers coming back for more.

The malls are also appealing to the senses, encouraging people to come to the mall to experience the sights and sounds of the holidays. What would the holidays be without holiday decorations and of course, Santa Claus? Tulsa’s Promenade Mall says Santa is always draws a crowd. The mall also brightened up its look with new carpeting and services such as free gift-wrapping.

Stores are also offering pre-holiday sales. It's all designed to get shoppers out to the mall.
"There's enough people out there that still want to see, feel and experience shopping,” said Groves. “They want to know what they're getting when they spend their money." She says that while the Internet may cut into the retail business, it won't kill it, especially during the holidays.