Harper Grey: Great Things That Go Together


The Savvy Shopper - Harper Grey

Remember the Reese’s peanut butter cup commercials from the early 80’s? The hip guy with the shaggy haircut is walking along, bopping to the tunes from his cool Walkman and eating a chocolate bar. Meanwhile, the hot brunette is walking toward him, plugged into her walkman and eating peanut butter from a jar (did anyone else think this was weird)? They bump into each other, and . . . “Hey you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” “Hey you got your peanut butter in my chocolate!” They each take a bite of scrumptious peanut butter-covered chocolate. “Mmmm . . . delicious!” Then the hot brunette plugs her headphones into shaggy guy’s Walkman and they bop down the sidewalk in tandem. Two great tastes that taste great together.

Sometimes two things that don’t seem cohesive end up going together in splendid fashion. In 2012, Bloomberg Business Week reported that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were the second best-selling candy bar in the United States, with annual sales of $516.5 million.

Businesses have figured out how to put two unrelated things together, too. Several years ago Barnes & Noble added Starbucks coffee shops inside many of its stores. At the time, it seemed like an odd combination – surely books and hot liquid would be disastrous together. I’m sure the stores have some shrinkage from ruined books every year, but I’m willing to bet that they’re making tons more money with the addition of the coffee shops. People are more likely to go and browse if they can relax with a cup of coffee. And I can’t speak for every shopper, but I know that I drop a lot more cash when I have time to peruse several book choices.

Dinner and a Movie

A local indie movie theater in my town offers more than just popcorn and over-priced candy. They have a full menu with pizza, nachos, quesadillas and hamburgers. Across the back of the chairs they’ve installed a narrow counter to hold your dinner while you watch the movie. Most people do dinner and a movie anyway, why not capture both markets? It’s a great combination.

Car Wash and coffee

There’s nothing I love more than pulling my car up to the car wash and handing it over to someone else to clean while I relax in the waiting area. The car wash I like best is a full service place – they’ll wash the car, vacuum it, wipe off the interior, clean the windows inside and out and put Amor All on the tires and trim. It’s like getting a brand new car every time I visit. Of course, all this buffing and polishing takes some time – about 20 minutes. The folks that own the car wash have figured out that they have a captive audience in the waiting room. In addition to offering cookies, sodas and candy for sale, they have a little gift shop with a huge greeting card display. Have you ever gone to the store to buy a funny birthday card and ended up standing there for a half hour while you try to decide which of the hysterically funny cards are the funniest? Every time I stop at this car wash I pick up a card or two. It’s a fun way to spend my time while I wait for my car to get beautified. Who would think that a car wash would go great with a greeting card display? Well, now . . . me!

Ice cream and Candy

Ice cream and candy both seem to be in the same category (yummy, fattening goodies), right? Well, not really. Think about it. When you go to the ice cream parlor for a sundae, do you want a caramel apple or hand-dipped chocolates? No. You’re there for ice cream; if you wanted candy, you’d go to my friend Beth’s specialty candy shop. So I thought it was kind of strange when the local ice cream shop added a huge glass case full of hand-dipped chocolates and gourmet caramel apples.

Then I noticed that people were buying the stuff up en masse. But they weren’t buying the candy at the time they paid for their ice creams. Instead, they’d sit and eat the ice cream and chat, all the while looking at that case full of goodies. They’d mention, “Hey, isn’t it Aunt Caroline’s birthday next week?” or “Let’s get a yummy treat to take home for later.” And they’d go back up to the register and buy chocolates. The shop also placed an attractive display of gift baskets, gift bags and cards by the chocolates, so it’s really convenient to pick up a gift of goodies. Too convenient, it turns out. Now I’m addicted to the caramel/marshmallow/chocolate apples. As if the ice cream wasn’t fattening enough.

Find Your Own Great Combination

You can add value for your customers and add cash to your bottom line by thinking of another product or service you can add to your business. I think this is particularly effective if you have a captive audience. For instance, if you own a business that does oil changes, you’ve got people sitting in your waiting area for 20 minutes. If you have a food service business of any kind, people are sitting at your establishment while they eat. What can you provide that they might like to buy?

Or perhaps you have the kind of business where people usually come in, buy something and leave. Can you find a way to get them to stick around? This worked for Barnes & Noble. Usually you just find a book, buy it and leave. But once B&N added a coffee shop, people started sticking around. They’re much more likely to spend more money if they stay in the store longer. And in the meantime, they’ve spent another $4 for a latte.

Think of your own great combination. Peanut butter and chocolate has already been done, but I’m sure you can come up with your own great idea. In fact, I bet you can think of two great things that go great together . . . without accidentally crashing into your customers.