The Shelby Mall looks nothing like a typical mall. There are no roaming packs of teenage girls. Brand names are not illuminated in halos of iridescent light. There is no smell of grease-soaked pizza wafting through conditioned air because there is no food court, nor is there air conditioning.
In the Shelby Mall, you’ll see adults—lots of them—of all ages with young kids in tow. You’ll see fluorescent lights for sale, along with tube sockets in which to install them and overrun Buckeye sweatshirts to keep you warm while you rewire the garage. You’ll smell a patented mixture of dust, metal and fragrance candles. If the smell bothers you, you can purchase a Russian gas mask with a free filter thrown in to sweeten the deal.
This variety store in Shelby, Ohio isn’t really named The Shelby Mall, at least not on its tax records. In fact, I missed the store’s real name somewhere between the parking lot where Vietnam-Era tanks and convoys commandeered my attention while I rambled up the old loading dock ramp and leaving with our booty of charming country décor wall hanging (for the dining room) and a hollowed out grenade (for the basement bar).
The Shelby Mall, as it’s dubbed by locals, is the go-to place for residents in need of shopping therapy and a great example of the power of having a niche worthy of a nickname.
Four Questions to Find Your Niche
You niche is the place where your services or products intersect with your prospects’ needs. Niche marketing is nothing new, but you may be struggling to define where you fit into the competition. The following four questions will help you stake your niche claim.
- How is your business unique? The Shelby Mall is the only business where men and women alike can spend a couple hours browsing contentedly. It’s the only place to go when it’s raining and you want to get out of the house.
- Does your service or product fit into your prospects’ budgets? The median income in Shelby, Ohio is $36,372. Shelby residents can find affordable home décor, inexpensive clothing, or bargain tools that improve their lifestyle.
- Does your business reflect your prospects values? People want to frequent businesses that reflect their worldview. Shelby Mall’s stock of camping supplies, work boots and country décor reflects the hard-working sentiments of its shoppers.
- Does your business encourage browsing? Shelby Mall is housed in a huge, repurposed warehouse. Its labyrinth of rooms and thousands of items make roaming its maze a thrill thrifters return to again and again. Online, you can make your business browse-worthy by offering valuable, fresh content.
The Shelby Mall’s intent focus on its customers and its unique charm make a winning combination. Not only has this business hit niche-gold as evidenced by its endearing nickname, the Shelby Mall proves that the small business with the perfect niche can compete with the big boys. Wal-Mart is less than twenty minutes away in nearby Ontario. But the Shelby Mall is the place residents take visiting relatives for a taste of authentic Shelby.