The Buckle: A specialty retailer thriving in today’s economy

You may have read James Stewart’s column last week in the Wall Street Journal about The Buckle, the denim-focused specialty retailer based in Kearney, Nebraska. It’s a good argument in favor of developing customer loyalty without overemphasizing price. A few key points in Stewart’s column jumped out at me when I commented for Retail Wire:

1. Merchandise mix: The store carries an assortment of “relevant” denim brands within its moderate pricing position. This plays well to a mainstream consumer outside the big cities, perhaps, that is still looking for more style and label selection than at her local mass-market chain store.

2. Expansion: To Ryan’s point, The Buckle has been cautious to walk before running and to be opportunistic. Why pursue the ego satisfaction of a mall in the New York area (with its attendant costs and competition) when you can exploit your niche more carefully?

3. Service: This may be The Buckle’s key tool in developing customer loyalty. The discussion in yesterday’s Retail Wire debated whether loyal customers are simply price-driven…The Buckle surely provides a strong counter-argument.

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