An update to my previous entry about B.Mac’s closure of its Ottawa store: MacNN is reporting that, according to a Montreal Gazette article (update: behind the subscriber wall), B.Mac has closed three of its four stores overall and may lose the fourth. The Gazette article apparently blames a declining user base; what limited information I have seen blames managerial cock-ups. It usually is, whenever a store closes, though management always blames something else — market conditions, the competitors, the suppliers.
Worldwide sales have been no worse in the last few months than they’ve been in the previous few years — in fact, they’ve been a little bit better for Macs, and obscenely good for iPods. And when you factor in the rise of the Canadian dollar over the past year and a half, which has meant an effective price cut of a few hundred dollars on a new Mac, the opportunity for sales should be even better. If B.Mac hasn’t been able to keep its head above water recently, it’s not because of market conditions, because they’ve never been as favourable in years, from what I can tell.
One factor: location. According to one commenter on the MacNN story, B.Mac’s Montreal stores are poorly located: one in an industrial area, another downtown but not at street level. Ottawa’s was in a suburban strip mall: downtown residents had to take the bus for an hour to get to it. (Hint: Don’t advertise in trendy downtown alternative papers and situate yourself in Nepean.) Apple’s retail strategy, on the other hand, obsesses about location: their stores show up in new, upscale or trendy shopping areas, and they’re always high-traffic areas. It’s true what they say: location’s everything.