Relocating retailer careful to get customers to follow |

Relocating retailer careful to get customers to follow

John Seelmeyer

Monica Bridgeman isn’t one to fake bravery.

“We’re scared to death over the move,” says Bridgeman as she takes a break from packing at G.J. Rhodes for the Home, the longtime Reno home accessories retailer that she owns with her husband, Toby.

But fear motivated Bridgeman to work in a patient, focused way to make sure her customers make the move with her.

And she’s doing more than merely moving the store from 3400 Lakeside Drive — that’s in the Moana West Shopping Center — to a newly constructed space at 35 Foothill Road in the South Creek center. The move is scheduled for October.

The new space is 1,800 square feet — some 64 percent less than its current 5,100 square feet — at twice the monthly rent.

Bridgeman also is making some subtle changes in the store’s logo and branding as well.

The move to a new location after 10 years, she says, reflects her belief that the south Reno location will provide more foot traffic as well as stronger visibility to drivers on South Virginia Street, which runs behind the new location.

The smaller space, she says, allows G.J. Rhodes for the Home to sharpen its focus.

“What we do, we do well,” she says. But keeping a 5,000-square-foot store full of home accessories proved to be a daunting chore.

As she worked with retail broker Ashley Lawson of Avison Young Western Commercial Alliance Inc., Bridgeman set another goal: She wanted to lease space from a local landlord. South Creek is a development of Reno-based McKenzie Properties.

At the same time that Bridgeman prepares for the move, she’s launching a redesign of the company’s branding, looking to soften and feminize the stylized rooftop that’s served as the company’s logo since its opening 10 years ago.

The Bridgemans opted to keep the name and the branding when they purchased the business in mid-2007, but Monica Bridgeman says potential customers sometimes have been confused, thinking that the logo designated an architectural firm or construction outfit.

At the time that she began paring back the store’s inventory to fit a more compact space, Bridgeman began her patient campaign to let customers know that the store is moving.

She relied on some traditional tools — print advertising, e-mail marketing — but decided the most effective tactic was one-on-one visits with customers.

So beginning July — a full 90 days before the scheduled move — employees of G. J. Rhodes began spreading the word to everyone who walked in. The counsel of some customers, in fact, had been sought out by Bridgeman in the early days when she was first thinking of the move.

“We want to get them onboard with the move when they come into the store,” she says.