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Reaching millennials

Kelly Sharp is the owner of the Heart of Iowa Market Place in historic Valley Junction.

There's an old saying that "everything old is new again."

Judging from a few recent stories in the national media, it seems one "old" idea that is new again is that millennials, an increasingly important market segment, have a growing appreciation for connecting to brands.

It should come as no surprise, really, and it fits right into a dominant philosophy that millennials would rather buy experiences than buy material goods.

While one writer described "selling experiences" as one of the hottest retail trends, that's old hat to small, specialty retailers. At the Heart of Iowa Market Place, we know our success depends on people having a very positive experience when they walk through our door or order products online.

Millennials' desire for exceptional experiences is great news for niche retailers. I'm not knocking big retailers, but shoppers don't go to the big-box stores for the experience or to create a connection. That always has been -- and always will be -- specialty retailers' opportunity to shine.

And, let's face it, not even the most frugal and determined millennial can live without some material goods.

If you're not already focused on the Millennial market -- and creating the kind of experience that will bring them through your doors or onto your website -- now is the best time to make it happen.

Because one thing I know for sure, extraordinary customer service never goes out of style. It's exciting to know that millennials recognize and appreciate that fact, too.

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