I’m not a big shopper, but shopping has become a big deal for me.
Four years ago we moved from Los Angeles to a small town where JCPenney and Belk are about the only options. When I was pregnant a couple years ago, I discovered that not a SINGLE STORE in town carried maternity sizes. The nearest major mall is over two hours away. So when I get to go shopping in a big city, it’s pretty exciting. It’s an event that happens two or three times a year. I always exclaim, out loud, “Commerce! Industry! Pants without elastic!"
When my friend recently suggested that we take a girl’s trip to Houston to eat great food, hear some music, and go shopping, I was all in. You would have thought we were planning a trip to Paris, the way we planned things out so we could maximize our time and do all the things we wanted to do.
We had just been to Anthro (cue Sound of Music “The Hills are Alive” twirling) when my friend said, “Hey, do you mind if we go over to Lululemon?"
“Sure!” said Outside Laura. “Eh,” said Inside Laura.
Lululemon? $100 for a pair of yoga pants? No, thank you. I know other people love it, but there ain’t nothin’ I need in terms of active wear that I can’t get at TJ Maxx. I sat on the couch at the front of the store where the dudes who get dragged there by their girlfriends sit. Then I went outside to get some fresh air and looked at Facebook on my phone.
I had the rare chance to shop one of the country’s most premium brands, and I didn’t even look at the clothes.
Why? I don’t value what they sell.
I’d much rather take my $100 next door to Anthropologie and get a hoodie blazer (I wear that thing all the time). Or to TJ Maxx and get 7 pairs of yoga pants.
What this tells us:
Does this mean that Lulu is doing things wrong because I don’t want to shop there? Of course not. It means that I am not the customer for them.
Lulu isn’t the only game in town for workout clothes. I could buy them at a discount store like Marshalls or Ross. I could go to Athleta or Gap Body. I could go to a sporting goods store. Or Nike. I could even order online from Kate Hudson’s Fabletics. Or go to Target. Or Topshop or Urban Outfitters or Old Navy or Nordstrom. I have LOTS of options.
Even though these companies are all selling the same thing, athletic wear, you can imagine from the brand names that the style, quality, fabrics, and colors of their offerings are really varied. There’s room in the market for all of them.
And there’s room in the market for you.
If you want to start a business and have been thinking, “But someone else is already doing it,” then you’re right. Someone else is already doing it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn't open shop. You think Lulu saw Nike and said, “Poops. Someone is already doing it. Guess I’ll stay in my 9-5 forever.” Nope. They found a way to differentiate themselves based on their values. To do THEIR thing. And to do it the best they could.
And that is your challenge. To choose your thing, find a way to differentiate yourself, and do it the best you can. And if you don’t know what makes you different, starting your business is how you figure that out.
So, no, I don’t want to shop at Lululemon. And that’s good news for you because it means that even the “best” brands aren’t for everyone. You won’t be the option for everyone, but you can be the option for enough people to have a fun, profitable business.