“Umpqua has revamped its marketing strategy, and today considers itself a retailer rather than a bank; in fact, it refers to its branches—which offer attractions like free Wi-Fi access, Umpqua-branded coffee, sewing groups, yoga classes and movie nights—as stores, and sends its employees to training sessions run by Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts.” Umpqua Bank gives kids in the northwestern U.S. a kit and seed money to start lemonade stands in order to demonstrate its commitment to small businesses (via Subtraction).
“‘As an icebreaker, we said, “Tell us about the best service experience you’ve ever had.” Of the 18 people, 16 said it was in a hotel. This was unexpected. But of course: The concierge desk at a hotel isn’t selling anything; it’s there to help. ‘We said, “Well, how do we create a store that has the friendliness of a Four Seasons Hotel?”’ The answer: ‘Let’s put a bar in our stores. But instead of dispensing alcohol, we dispense advice.’” CNN Money on why Apple is America’s best retailer (via Kottke).
Malcolm Gladwell on the rise and fall of the American shopping mall, and especially on its inventor, Victor Gruen: “Gruen’s most famous creation was his next project, in the town of Edina, just outside Minneapolis. He began work on it almost exactly fifty years ago . It was called Southdale.” I grew up just a short bike ride away from Southdale.