I drive past Laacke and Joys, 1433 N. Water St., nearly every day. Truth be told, I've never been to the company's Brookfield or Mequon stores. But, my loyalty to Downtown isn't the topic here. Well, maybe it is.
Here's the deal and a simple suggestion for this wonderful, 165-year old local company. Hold up. 165 years! Wow. First, hats off. In today's retail world of online shopping and big box retail Laacke and Joys survives and thrives with amazing service (more on this later), big brands (Columbia, North Face, Patagonia and more), great selection and industry knowledge that truly make them experts in the outdoor retail and adventure categories.
But, here's why I rarely stop at their huge Downtown location - it has no frickin' windows. I know, I know, I'm a dork. But, hear me out. Check out the above photos. Replacing those images with real windows that could showcase product and the inside of the store would not only draw customers in but also add to the street presence and curb side appeal. Sure it would cost a lot, but the rewards would be there. Easy for me to say, but design matters and great windows are still a draw for niche retail. Add them, I say, to the Downtown Laacke and Joys and business booms. Add them, and Downtown retail grows. Success begets success.
Last week, I did stop in at the location and even though there were no display windows calling me in, I found the experience to be great. The staff was friendly, prices more than reasonable and selection outstanding. I like this store, and I'm not even a big outdoor guy. I needed a life jacket for a toddler and staff knew the size, make and model that was the best. I bought one and a few other items too.
I did, just so you know, tell the clerk that if the place looked a little nicer on the outside and had real windows that I'd be back more often. I also told her that I thought it would help drive additional traffic since natural light and displays are a draw. She agreed and hopefully took my idea up the ladder. Consider this blog, though, an official addition to the Laacke and Joys suggestion box.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.