Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pike Place Market

The original Starbucks mermaidToday, Friday and Saturday, I am in Seattle. I drove down with my wife for a meeting with Starbucks, and I decided to stay for a few days extra.

Costless has been a Preferred Starbucks supplier for many years, and strong supporters of the brand. While in town for the meeting, we had to stop by the First Starbucks store near Pike Place Market. As we walked close - there it was, complete with its original logo of the bare-breasted mermaid. Starbucks changed the logo from brown to green and went with a PG mermaid when the company began to grow. Amazingly, the store was jam packed, with customers spilling out into the street. A jazz band was blasting away right out front on the sidewalk.

Pike Place Public marketI love visiting Pike Place Market for another reason, and if you have never been there, it's truly a world in itself for the best of the best in retailing.

I'm sure you've heard of the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market, where the guys toss the fish to each other. It was another location where people packed in just to see the show and take pictures with the staff and some giant fish or crab. How did a bunch of fish mongers become so famous?

John Yokoyama purchased Pike Place Fish in 1965. At that time, John was one of several employees of the quiet, unassuming little fish stand. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to sell the business, John’s employer offered him the opportunity to purchase Pike Place Fish. As a young man of 25, John was at first hesitant to buy the business.
The first step was for them at Pike Place Fish was to decide who we wanted to be. In the words of John Yokoyama: “In one of our early Pike Place Fish meetings with Jim (our coach from bizFutures), we began an inquiry into "Who do we want to be? We wanted to create a new future for ourselves. One of the young kids working for John said, “Hey! Let's be World Famous!” At first he thought, “World Famous…what a stupid thing to say!” But the more they talked about it, the more they all got excited about being World Famous. So they committed to it. They added “World Famous” to their logo and had it printed on the shipping boxes. Amazing how things turned out!

I've seen John and some of his staff do an inspirational talk about their company at a conference a few years bac,k and I have to say they are a true inspiration to me. I have a World Famous Pike Place baseball hat in my office that brings me great confidence and inspiration. If you have time in Seattle it is a must see as are all the retailers in the market. The "game" has really been set at a new level.

Before I wrap up I must give mention to a fruit stand not far from Pike Fish. They too are world class in my books! You can't step foot in their store, because all the staff is right out front waving you over to sample their fruit. "Hey you, check out these Fuji Apples, just picked yesterday! Have a slice! You ever tasted anything so juicy?" The staff just carve off samples with a small knife, and pass out the best fruit you have ever tasted. If you want to buy something, they insist on running in the store and bringing it back to you. Although the front of the store is jammed, nobody is moving, they are either sampling and or buying. The energy is awesome! There is no way I can walk past without buying some fruit.

OK, I also love the way the guys in the Magic Shop and the Bookstore on the second floor go to market. So grab a coffee from the original Starbucks, and head over to Pike Place Market for some World Famous retailing the next time you visit Seattle.