In just a few weeks, "Take another look at Zayre's," should become almost as familiar a jingle as "things go better with . . ." to area residents.
The Boston-based retail chain is gearing up for a television and radio blitz to accompany the completion of their total interior renovations of the Washington area's 13 outlets. The "grand reopening" is scheduled for them all on Aug. 10.
It's part of Zayre's market development plan for the 250-plus stores nationwide, conceived in 1978.
Interior work on the individual stores began last year in Chicago, Miami and Boston. This summer the stores in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Washington are getting the beauty treatment. Next season Pittsburg and Cincinnati get their turns.
Zayre management decided back in '78 to take another look themselves and devised a four-part strategy for bringing the chain into the 1980s. The plan calls for a total overhaul of the Zayre way of business, from reevaluation of management and inventory needs to any necessary interior renovation of the chain's stores. Spearheading the effort is Maurice Segall, Zayre's president and chief executive officer.
"What we do is examine every store from the point of view of its needs for physical remodeling and do whatever we have to do," explained Segall. "Some of the stores may get only a cosemtic touch-up. In others, we'll replace floors and ceilings, possibly do a total remodeling.
"Secondly, we do a thorough appraisal of the store's management, its customer service level and the amount of labor we're using in the store," Segall said.
"Thirdly, we're examining the stores for merchandising layout and content. Are we presenting the right merchandise for the particular trade area?"
Last, and to Segall, perhaps most important, is part four. "We impress upon our management staff that we expect a very high standard of operation, a very high level of customer service, of store cleanlliness and of generally improved standards of operation that come with the whole package."
Also included in the overhaul package for many stores is a change in the way merchandise is marketed and sold. The company is finally catching up with the computer age, installing "electronic point-of-sales registers" to help speed consumer exits. Computerized inventory control and new approaches to marketing are additional components of the Zayre plan.
All of the 13 Washington area stores currently show signs of almost-finished renovations. Zayre assistant vice president and manageer of store planning Allen Smith recently completed a tour of the area stores. "The transition around Washington is unbelievable," he said. "We're spending our resources right now to get our stores ready for the next decade."
Those resources are also providing jobs for area contractors. The Zayre development team brought only two specialists down to D.C. in advisory capacities for the renovations. One is a floor tile buyer, the other a "fixturing expert." Contracts for glass work, painting, interior realignment of display "gondolas," electrical wiring and intercom systems have all gone to area firms.
Carpex Construction Co. Inc., a Falls Church-based firm, rebuilt and realigned the interior partitioning on seven area stores.
"The whole concept they're trying -- the color and decor -- looks good," said foreman Ray Dingus.
Other area construction companies were involved. Wheaton's General Glass and Del-Ray Glass of Falls Church installed some entry doors and transom glass. Al Gleeson Electrical Co. Inc. of Bladensburg rewired several sales floors and set up the new electronic cash registers. Kron-O-Rowe and Patrick Signs, both of Rockville, Hudson/Schatz Painting's D.C. branch and several other companies also did renovation work.
Zayre's Washington metropolitan manager, Brad Katz, has watched his group of 18 stores (he also oversees the Richmond and Tidewater outlets) evolve during the market development plan. "When we're finally complete, in just a few days, our customers will find very attractive stores and a very fine selling machine. It will make for a much more pleasant, easier way to shop," he said.