On the morning of the workshop, I drove down Dean Street and noticed the town clock, in the iconic building on the corner of Kiewa Street, was stuck on 3pm. You know a regional centre has stopped thinking about its future when the clock has stopped and the battery not changed!
I challenged my group on this point and an innovative concept.
With a population of around 60,000 there is a massive opportunity to build something better when it comes to retail and the regional experience.
I boldly suggested that they put a roof over Albury and rebrand it 'Albury One dot com.' There were looks of dismay. Their brains were thinking one way, and mine, another.
Not corrugated iron roofing I suggested, which was the conclusion they all clearly jumped to. A brand, a destination, an experience, a performance I explained.
See, I believe their shopping precinct has lost it's mojo. It has turned into rows of shops with stuff on shelves with nice flower pots and speed humps as the attraction.
Shopping should be a performance, an experience of the senses. It should be like poisonous gas! It should make you clammy, cry, laugh, sweat, run, stop and drop. Albury needs to rethink it's retail purpose.
Create an environment like Disneyland where everything they do in the magic kingdom is a performance. As 'Albury One dot com' the hundreds of retailers in Albury/Wodonga could leverage their marketing spend, logistics expense, website presence, training and supply chain. They could align themselves into categories like a Chadstone or Highpoint West shopping centre. Once that was done they could then entertain attracting customers to the value, not just the product. They need to develop innovative ways to attract people to experience their shops again. Create clever events, entertain, engage customers and bring back the pizazz so sorely missed in retail today.
Think about it. Why do you really go to a restaurant? For the food? Be honest, you go for the experience. To catch up with friends, to laugh, to share and to engage the senses. Food is a given. The problem is most owners of restaurants charge for food only which demonstrates they think they are in the food business when they really should be in the entertainment business. There is no competitive advantage in selling just stuff.
It's time to change the clock Albury.