Sure are lots of ways to score a deal these days, huh?
I’m a worrier by nature, so I tend to fret about whether Groupon, Daily Candy’s Swirl, and the like are bulldozing the underdog indies with their copious deal-making. (I have friends who can’t believe that I don’t have the Gilt app. Nope. Don’t.) It’s not an unfounded worry, even for a worrier. So my eyebrows were up where my new short, short bangs are when, right before Christmas, I heard that Rue La La was coming to town.
It’s one thing for a mega-marketer to scoop up some past season Juicy Couture from Juicy Couture HQ and offer the stuff in a virtual sample sale environment, perhaps snatching the $40 a Seattleite woulda spent in her neighborhood boutique if so much online wheeling-and-dealing weren’t in her face, but what does it mean when the mega-marketer goes small and scoops up — and also invoices for the clean-up — the neighborhood boutique’s unsold stuff and repackages it for that same Seattle shopper? Does the small boutique lose twice?
Well, okay. That might just be the fretter in me. That’s not what Rue Seattle is doing. So far, with promotions involved eye lash technicians, top chefs, high-end nail salons, family jewelers, chocolate makers, and cheese tastings, Rue Seattle is offering experiences as much as deals. They’re getting retailers, chefs, and stuff-makers into public arenas with their members (yes of course, you must sign up and become a member). I spoke with two locally based representatives of the company and both stressed the experience element. Next week, a promotion with Antica Farmacista involves the founders giving a behind the scenes look at their home fragrance process and a good value on the product itself. Likewise, a Built for Man. deal In a few days (it’s all about the surprise element of the email in your inbox; I can’t tell you when because I don’t know – they wouldn’t tell me) means Rue Seattle members have the chance to buy the locally designed knitwear for a good price, and attend a private fashion event with the brand’s insiders.
Home fragrance entrepreneurs and global-good menswear designers have to pay for the brokering of such promotions, sure. But they do so on the bet that (as current retail science goes,) experiences + value = brand building. We, as consumers are getting accustomed to experiences. These days, we want more than just stuff when we buy stuff. We want to be involved, we want to interact with a personality, we want a story to tell. Conceivably, if the stories that Rue are facilitating are worthy, what they offer could equal a win, win.
But as I’ve established, I’m not always the joining type. So you tell me, Rue members: Are you getting good deals? Are you having experiences?