We are so lucky that we can buy nearly anything we want online. If we want, we can stay at home and wait to get a new pair of shoes, a replacement phone protector, toilet paper even… Why do we still bother to go to actual stores?

I read a great article about the whole “is retail really dying” question, and depending on your school of thought it may or may not surprise you. Retail is growing! But not everyone is so lucky. We have our winners and losers and they’re not all expensive stores, or even thrifty ones.

The common denominator is that they share the philosophy of giving their customers what they want, or surprising them with things that match their personality.

Who can we thank? Amazon.

Whether we agree with their principles or business, Amazon has changed how retail operates. How can you compete with a website that has everything you could ever want? You surprise and delight your customers.

I live around a lot of cute boutiques in a very hipster neighborhood, and they thrive because they stock what people want or expect. I’ll casually walk into a shop when I don’t even need to buy anything, but I do anyway because I am delighted at what I find.

The same can be said for the other retailers that are doing well: Dollar General, Tiffany & Company, my favorite shop down the street where I bought my “plant mom” iron-on patch.

This is exactly what we believe can save retailers, or frankly, any business competing with a big market leader. It’s not always a price war.

When businesses figure out what their purpose is, and who their customers are, they win. It goes beyond demographics and dives into personalities, motivations, hopes and dreams even. You don’t need to be the biggest, you just need to be the best for the people who mesh well with you.