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Sowing Seeds of Success: Branching Out to Maximize Your Smoke Shop’s Potential

As a smoke shop retailer, have you considered expanding your reach with satellite storefronts or specialty vending machines? The concept of smaller footprint stores is not new, but early success stories are providing tailwinds for others to test whether “small but mighty” is a relevant adage.

Over the last few years, retailers have opened physical stores at a more rapid pace, buoyed by shoppers’ return to bricks-and-mortar. But the days of cookie cutter units are ancient history. Today’s new builds deliver a competitive advantage with a precise mix of neighborhood awareness, personalized inventory assortments, and right-sized footprints.

Examples of successful smaller format stores abound, from Target’s small-format stores to DSW’s Warehouse Reimagined. There’s Market by Macy’s, Bloomies, Nordstrom Local, Kohl’s, Schnucks Fresh stores, Publix’s GreenWise, and many more.

What’s even more telling are the moves by some specialty retailers and brands to partner on smaller in-store representation. Sephora plans to open shops in 850 Kohl’s locations in the coming year. Toys “R” Us partnered with Macy’s for toy shops during the holiday season, and Petco is working with Lowe’s to open shops in select locations – a move that makes sense for shoppers craving convenience and fewer shopping trips.

Best Buy has adopted a different take on smaller format stores with the introduction of showroom/digital-first stores. The first of its kind debuted in North Carolina this past summer. At one-seventh of the size of a traditional Best Buy store, this location includes a curated selection to encourage the customer to “do everything from shop, select your product and get advice digitally,” according to a company press release. Lockers are located outside the store “for around-the-clock pick-up options.”

As an independent business, you can also set up satellite storefronts or specialty vending machines. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of them:

  1. Consider the location carefully: Choose a location that is convenient for your customers, with high foot traffic, and minimal competition in the vicinity.
  2. Offer a curated selection: Since space is limited, you should offer a carefully curated selection of your best-selling products. Consider seasonal trends and customer preferences to guide your selection.
  3. Personalize the inventory assortment: Analyze your customer base and tailor your inventory to their needs and preferences. Consider stocking products that are popular among your customers in that particular location.
  4. Utilize technology: In today’s world, customers appreciate the convenience of shopping online. Consider setting up an online store or integrating your satellite storefront with your online presence.
  5. Promote your satellite storefront: Use social media and other marketing channels to promote your satellite storefront. Offer discounts or other incentives to encourage customers to visit.
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