MERCHANT SPOTLIGHT:
October 2017

 

Norby's Department Store - Located in downtown Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Years in Business: since 1906
Number of employees: over 30


 

Norby's:

Norby’s Department Store is a family-owned department store currently run by all three fourth-generation Norby siblings who share the duties of managing, buying, merchandising, selling, and providing customer service. Selling a variety of merchandise, Norby’s offers men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing, shoes, cosmetics and accessories, housewares, home décor, luggage and bags, and registry gifts.

Biggest challenges:

Norby’s faces a few big challenges including:

  • Talent management: Hiring and keeping good employees who have the expertise, teamwork, and can deliver consistent quality customer service.
  • Online shopping/eCommerce: Norby’s online store carries only a small selection of the merchandise sold in-store. Online sales have dropped due to competition from eCommerce marketplaces like Amazon and other retailer’s websites. It’s expensive to maintain an online store with the modern infrastructure and technology needed to meet changing consumer demands.
  • Customer acquisition: Attracting new customers and increasing in-store foot traffic have been challenging when more and more consumers shop online, especially in the winter months.

Most rewarding

Michael Norby is one of the three Norby siblings, managing the store with his two sisters. Michael moved back to Detroit Lakes, his home town, to raise his children in a great atmosphere. He finds it rewarding to continue a traditional family business started by his great grandfather. Regularly donating to numerous nonprofit organizations and local charities, Norby’s aids its community. They sponsor the annual "Give with a Purpose" Christmas promotion and support the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center (DLCCC) Plan, Detroit Mountain Recreation Area project, and United Way.

Successful marketing and promotions:

Because of the internet, Detroit Lakes’ local newspaper and radio are becoming less cost effective and efficient – even for a small town. Norby’s supplements its newspaper and radio advertising by using multiple digital channels to reach both local and national customers via text messages, emails, and social media.

Because of the internet, Detroit Lakes’ local newspaper and radio are becoming less cost effective and efficient – even for a small town. Norby’s supplements its newspaper and radio advertising by using multiple digital channels to reach both local and national customers via text messages, emails, and social media.

What differentiates Norby's Department Store?

As an independent department store, Norby’s has to compete against big box stores as well as online retail stores and marketplaces. Their competitive advantages include:

  • Customer Service - Norby's does their best to give its customers personal, small town, Minnesota-nice service in-store and on the internet.
  • Product selection - Norby's carries a wide selection of big brand names, which are expected from major department stores and boutiques. They also have a unique selection of products and keep them fresh online.
  • Strategic location - Norby's is located in the vibrant Detroit Lakes downtown, serving the lakes area of northwestern Minnesota. The downtown and lakes area attract many locals and tourists, which helps Norby’s to operate all year round.

Tips to help other small business grow

A loyalty program like Norby’s True Blue Savers Club is an effective means to reward frequent/repeat customers and increase store traffic. Norby’s gives loyalty program participants in-store discounts and other perks after they reach a minimum spending threshold.

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