Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Nordstrom’

What It’s Like to Rent from Classic Rental Solutions

April 11th, 2019 COMMENTS
Classic Rental Solutions

For over 13 years, I was on the distributor side of the exhibit business, working directly with local clients/exhibitors while I owned Exhibits Northwest. During that time, I experienced firsthand what was important to our customers and what we needed to do to make them feel comfortable. I found that the more confident we were, the more confident our customers became with us. They expected us to be the experts and to guide them through the process, and we understood that’s what we were there to do, and we enjoyed doing it.

Shopping at Nordstrom

It reminds me of a twenty-year span where I would go on shopping sprees for business clothes about every two to three years. This was back when we were all dressing up to go into the office every day, and wearing slacks, with dress shirts, ties, and a sports jacket. I know, I just dated myself big time.

I always shopped at the same Nordstrom store in Portland, and Pam in the Men’s Suits Department helped me every time. Once I became confident with her guidance and direction, I had no reason to ever consider shopping anywhere else. Early on, she learned what styles I liked, and what I was comfortable with. She always shared what was new, made great suggestions, and guided me through the process.

She would walk throughout the store, selecting my size in pants, shirts, and jackets, and color coordinate them for me. I simply stayed in the dressing room and tried everything on to decide what I was going to buy. She was super confident, and clearly plugged-in as an expert in men’s clothing. It was about a two-hour process, and then I was set for another two to three years. I really admired and appreciated Pam’s confidence and her approach, and I trusted her judgement. But more importantly, I became very comfortable with the process, and I knew what I could expect every time, and I was happy with my purchases. It was always a no hassle experience for me. To no one’s surprise, Pam was a Top 50 salesperson for Nordstrom nationwide.

We’re all looking for this type of buying experience, where we work with people and companies that truly get it and are experts in their field. And we want them to guide us through the process and help us feel comfortable with our purchasing decisions.

Trade Show Rental Exhibit from Classic Rental Solutions

Earning Your Trust and Confidence

At Classic Rental Solutions, our goal is to make our customers feel the same way that Pam made me feel as her customer through all those years. We want to earn that same trust and confidence to deliver successful experiences every time.

Renting an exhibit is more complex than buying men’s clothes, but here’s what we set out to do for our customers for every project:

  • Assist with design to help provide solutions that match our customer’s expectations
  • Guide and direct the process from the beginning to the end
  • Manage the details for every project to make sure everything is produced correctly, and on time
  • Maintain the highest level of quality control to assure that every exhibit looks brand new on the show floor
  • Stage every order, and test fit the graphics prior to shipping
  • Include staging photos, packing photos, setup diagrams, and an inventory list with every order
  • Offer webcam or FaceTime previews
  • Reward our customers with CRS Rental Rewards credits towards future projects, and other reward incentives.

If you shop around, you’ll discover that these comprehensive services are rarely offered by other providers.

Trade Show Rental Exhibit

A Complete Rental Program

As I always like to say, a lot of companies rent exhibits, but we offer a complete rental program. That’s what makes us different.

We’re constantly adding new designs to our inline, island, and accessories website galleries, and we offer rebrand and custom design services. And we’re always happy to jump on a design call. We’ll make structural and functional suggestions and try to come up with cost savings ideas.

As a division of Classic Exhibits Inc., CRS is supported by a full-service shop that produces our rental components in-house. This allows us to offer customization for every design. And our inventory is virtually unlimited. If we’re out of something, we produce more to fulfill new orders. And that’s very rare in our industry. All the designs shown on our website are always available, as long as we have a standard lead time. We don’t shy away from rush orders either.

We have fun doing what we do, because we build something new and different every day. It can be stressful at times, but it’s very rewarding to be a part of our customer’s successful projects from the beginning to the end. And we’re like little kids when we receive show photos with a positive note saying how successful the show was. That’s what it’s all about.

For more information about Classic Rental Solutions, please contact Jim Shelman @ or call 503-345-0525 x 103.

The Brand Experience: Word on the Street — Nov. 21st thru Nov. 25th

November 27th, 2011 1 COMMENT

Brand Experience

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Have you ever worked with a client who obsesses about “Brand Experience”? That’s been my week. We just completed a very large retail project for a client whose brand experience is just as important as their products, if not more so.

When I was much younger, I trained and worked for Nordstrom. Nordstrom was obsessed with customer service, and every day was a new lesson in catering to customers and understanding how to anticipate their needs. Did Nordstrom carry superior products? Absolutely! But their brand was (and continues to be) exceptional customer service. You expect that experience when you walk through their doors.

Brand Experience is defined as . . .

Sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand’s design and identity, packaging, communications, and environments. A brands experience scale includes four dimensions: sensory, affective, intellectual, and behavioral. Moreover, brand experience affects consumer satisfaction and loyalty directly and indirectly through brand personality associations.

Nike is another Northwest company that has done far better than most in creating their Brand Experience. When you walk into a Nike Store you feel one or all of the following:

  • How can I live an active lifestyle
  • How can I improve my workout
  • I feel inspired to start exercising
  • I feel like an athlete
  • I want to swing a baseball bat, go for a run, or shoot hoops

Nike has several levels of stores: Nike Town, Nike Outlet Stores, Nike Factory Stores, and of course if you live in the Northwest, the ever-exclusive Nike Employee Store which is invite only.

I appreciate how the Nike stores, and all the Nike retailers, such as Dick’s or Sports Authority, carry the same Brand Experience. It does not matter if you are at the Nike Outlet in Florida, Nike Town on Michigan Avenue, or the Nike department at Dicks Sporting Goods. Their brand, and the way they display it, carries the same message and experience.

Disney is another great example. Whether you are walking into Disneyland or the Disney Store at your mall, you experience the same emotions and thoughts.

  • You feel part of the magic
  • All your senses are stimulated
  • You feel like a child regardless of your age
  • You want to use your imagination
  • You feel warm and safe

Creating a sustained brand experience is tough. It requires vision and discipline. Too often, marketing departments want to chase the latest fad or tamper with the brand to fit a “cool” idea. But, brands and the experience have to evolve as well. Look at Geico. They’ve managed to create multiple identities, riding each one only as long as the idea sparks interest (or no longer fails to annoy).

Other companies have/had a superior brand experience, but that brand experience is dated or dead. Saturn took their experience for granted and it lost its meaning as GM tampered with the product mix and the message. Buick, on the other hand, has been transformed. The codger-mobile, long reserved for grandpa’s, bankers, and southern preachers, has been taken off life support and is now suitable for anyone without a pacemaker or stents.

While I could give examples all day long (Apple, Starbucks, Target), I would like to hear what your favorites are or where you have seen Brand Experiences come to life — the best and worst. Who succeeds . . . Who fails?

Have a wonderful week. I look forward to your comments.

–Kevin Carty

Word on the Street — June 7th thru June 11th

June 11th, 2010 1 COMMENT

Why we participate in the TS2 Show

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

What’s the Best Business Advice You’ve Ever Received?

I am going to dovetail my blog with my friend Reid’s blog from earlier this week. Reid wrote about the best advice he’s received from his bosses over the years.

My first job was as a bottle boy at a local grocery store in Oregon at the age of 14. The Damascas Thriftway was not a bustling store. More like the only grocery store within 10 square miles of this small town. Well, I had a boss there by the name of Mike Woolsey. He hired me. Truth is, I think he had the hots for my mom and that’s why I got the job.

But I digress. So, as the bottle boy, you are the lowest man on the totem pole. Really, no one is lower than you. However, Mike taught me through his actions and words that your importance inside an organization is not dictated by your title. According to Mike, “Everyone has a role and that role has importance.” If the bottle boy doesn’t do his job properly, then things get cluttered which in turn causes problems for the freight/stock guys. They can’t be efficient if there are bottles in their way.  If that happens, then when the store opens at 7:00 a.m., the shelves are not stocked properly and customers can’t find what they want.

The Nordstrom Business Advice

The Nordstrom Way

At 15, I applied for a job with a company that truly shaped my professional life. Meaning, it really gave me my foundation. I was hired as a stock boy for Nordstrom. Whether you start in sales or in stock, you go through a training process. And the training is focused on one thing and one thing only:  Customer Service. The emphasis is all on one simple motto: “The customer is always right.” There are numerous stories about this in a book called The Nordstrom Way. It’s a great read for any new employee (or employer), regardless of the industry!

Over the next five years, I advanced through the ranks of Nordstom, including moving to NY/NJ to help with the opening of the first two stores in NJ. All the while, the one thing that stuck with me was that motto. I’m not trying to stereotype at all, but the reaction to that type of service to East Coast shoppers vs. West Coast shoppers was staggeringly different. Maybe it was because Nordy’s was based in the West that their customers were used to it. But on the East Coast, you got some very strange looks when you welcomed someone into the department with “Hello, can I answer any questions for you?” 🙂

I eventually left Nordstrom to pursue Production Studies in college and work as an intern for a small video production company in Manhattan. Let’s just say that it was the black hole of advice. I learn more about how NOT to run a company than anything else. Yet, it was a good growth experience for me when I look back.

Business Advice

Business Advice -- Condensed Version

After moving home from NY, I actually went to work for another Thriftway at a different location. Basically, it was “a job” until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. At Thriftway, my boss was Stan Lim, and Stan, while mild mannered, was very specific about how he wanted things to look when he arrived in the mornings. And since my job was overnight stock/freight, I was the one being held to his standards. I learned a lot from him. He was very customer-centric and wanted his store shelves to be full and organized by 7:00 a.m. when the doors opened.

Have you ever heard the retail term “facing”? If not, it means that every label on every can of Campbell’s soup must be rotated so that it is facing out. And not just the first can . . . all of them. His theory was that “Why wouldn’t you do them all that way. That way, when someone comes by and grabs a can of Chicken Noodle, leaving a void, the next customer can clearly see the label.” He would often say, “Make it easy for the customer . . . they’ll buy more.” Very true statement!

After awhile, a friend offered me a job at his father’s company. The company, Classic Exhibits, made trade show displays. At the time, I had no idea what a trade show display was. My boss and the owner of the company was Lowell Nickens, who many of you know. Lowell provided me with a wealth of advice as well. Two things most notably!

First was the idea of “If you do enough of tomorrow’s work today, when tomorrow goes to hell in a handbasket, you will be better prepared handle it.” This is a philosophy that still exists at Classic, especially on the Production floor. It is the driving force behind our quicker than average turn times and our ability to make the “impossible”. . . . possible!

Next was the idea of “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Which really means two things to me. One — if you put everything back where it came from, then it will always be there when you go looking for it. And two — if everything is in its “planned” place, then you are organized enough and have room for more things.  Basically it comes down to clear processes and procedures!

Lastly, on a more personal level, my grandfather used to take me fishing a lot. It was always a great time. As I got older, it did not happen as frequently, but we still made it out at least 7 or 8 times a year until he died about 12 years ago.

He was a great fisherman and always caught something every time we went out. Every time! Yet, I never once caught a single fish when I went fishing with Grandpa Lawrence. NEVER! And I have caught hundreds in my lifetime, but never with him. Eventually, it began to really bother me when I was about 17, so I stopped going for about six months. He finally asked me why and I told him that I was frustrated about never-ever catching a fish. I will never forget his response, “Then let’s go golfing or something else Kev. The fishing is not the reason why I enjoy our time together.”

Best piece of advice ever!

How about you? I would love to hear about some of the best business or personal advice you have received.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Be well.

–Kevin Carty

Word on the Street — January 11th thru January 15th

January 17th, 2010 COMMENTS

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

A Lasting Impression

Ever leave a meeting or sales presentation and wonder if what you said “stuck”? Better yet, after giving a presentation, have you ever discovered that your client went in another direction? Worse, the direction they chose was something you could have handled as well. Wonder why?

It happens to all of us. For me, it makes me look back at what I did not convey properly in my presentation to that person or group. So I wonder . . . what are the keys to making a lasting impression?

1. Emotion

Experts will tell you, the stronger the emotion, the stronger the impression. Sometimes the biggest error we make is to get “too comfortable” with our service and product offerings. We assume that the folks we’re talking to have the same understanding of how “great” our products or services are, that they see the features and benefits, and finally, that they are just as passionate about these unique advantages as we are. This can easily happen if you are not careful, especially if you are giving the same presentation over and over.

Once we turn eighteen, the word “Cheerleader” doesn’t have the same impact. That’s too bad because all companies need cheerleaders who are passionate about their products and services. We remember cheerleaders. In our hearts, we all want that same passion and commitment. Steve Jobs at Apple is a great example of that unabashed “cheering” of the company’s products and culture. Wrong or right, we all want to hear what he has to say because we know he believes and he cares.  

2. Use Images

People’s memories are triggered more through the use of effective images than through words. Think about it, it’s the key to making a good commercial or ad right? Well, the same applies to presentations for a live audience. The images you choose are critical. Using images that are too simple or plain will not only be ineffective, but can also actually turn off the crowd. For example, if presenting Aero Overhead Hanging Signs, I would show the jobs that highlight the most creative and custom shapes. Showing the standard shapes and sizes would be less effective. I’ve learned over time that there is a natural assumption made by the audience that you can do the standard stuff, when you WOW them with the truly custom stuff.

3. Differentiate Yourself and Your Product or Service

When there are several other companies that make or sell similar products, you need to emphasize what makes you truly “different.” Differentiation can be in service and capabilities. For example, look at Nordstrom. They sell many of the same brands as the other stores, but their service is unmatched. You know when you buy something from Nordstrom that you are going to receive the best customer service at the time of the purchase — AND, should you ever have to return the product, you know you will get a “no questions asked” approach when you walk back into the store

From a product standpoint, capabilities are the key! For example, for over 10 years, the Quadro S has been a leader in Pop-up Systems. The reason is simple — it’s the only system of its kind that can hold up to 200 lbs on any internal shelf on the straight frame. It can hold multiple flat screen LCD’s within one unit, and it is the only pop up that can double as a full video presentation wall with 9 large LCD’s inset into a straight frame.

What are some methods that you use to help leave a lasting impression on your clients?

Please share your comments via the blog comment section and have a safe and restful weekend!

–Kevin Carty