Now that the holidays of 2010 are a memory and retailers (and shoppers) are feeling better about having their financial houses in order, expansion and new store concepts are starting to come back to the table.  For those retailers with the cash reserves, opening a new store concept (Lululemon, Hot Mama or Title Nine anyone?)  has the greatest potential for return on investment.  Here are three hot retail concepts that cash in on consumer trends with staying power.

    1. The Dollar Channel – Learn from Dollar General and Family Dollar, there is an enormous population base that is under-served by today’s grocers and mass merchandisers.  With limited income (but a huge base) these families have had to rely on neighborhood bodegas and drug store front ends for too long.  Smart CPG companies like P&G are creating entire brands (like Gain detergent) to meet the need for brand consistency and reliability and value pricing.  As a retailer, take a close look at your assortment and ask yourself how you can meet the needs of the shoppers who aspire to own your products but only make $25,000 per year for a family of four.  It is possible.  They buy food, diapers, shoes, clothes, entertainment, home decor, office supplies and every other good in America.  They just don’t buy it at your stores.  Create a store, an operating model and an assortment that meets their needs and you will serve a segment that will grow for decades.

    2. Color Me Green – Environmental care, recycling and sustainability aint going away.  Creating a store concept that caters to responsibility and frugality will succeed across the board.  Connecting with the values that sit behind the purchases will create a brand with longevity.  There are so many ways to go after this diverse market: creating a CSA model for every aspect of the food supply line, tapping into local artists and craftsmen in fashion and home decor, developing partnerships with recyclers and building material remanufacturers, xeriscape and native landscaping — not to mention the opening for a super-store model that combines energy efficient technology with home servicing.  Even if you are not considering a new store concept, you need to include this rising trend in your line reviews and consider a store-within-a-store shop concept to learn more in your current store concepts.

    3. Color Me Gray – Aging is the hot trend we are all on, right?  I mean, each of us is aging and as we move through our life span a whole new set of challenges arise that make us review our past brand alliances and ask ourselves, is that still right for me now?  I recently had to help a friend who suffered a debilitating fall by installing bathroom hand rails and other simple items.  Where did I go?  To a medical supply “store” that was merchandised horribly, overpriced and staffed with people who knew very little about the products.  If I had to open ONE store today I would open a store that supplies canes, walkers, bathroom and toilet accessories, wheelchairs, eyeglasses, diet supplements and an array of items that I cannot find at Walgreens or CVS for America’s aging population and their caretakers.  Talk about an opportunity for building a community!!