Laura and David are back with Teeg, Catch Co.’s Director of Retail Experience, to continue their talk about experiential retail. Teeg drops insights into how they’re innovating traditional retail with untraditional shopper experiences, like truly hands-on shopping and appearances from their funny mascot Karl VonDibble.
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Laura Hale: Today, Teeg Stouffer, Director of Retail Experience at Catch Co, David Pratt, VP of Leasing, and I finish our conversation on experiential retail and its impact on customer experience. Teeg shares which experiential retail trends he looks forward to seeing in 2022 and explains how Karl’s Bait & Tackle is transferring its local tackle shop feel to its new store fronts. We also get a peek behind the curtain as Teeg shares his favorite moments with Catch Co’s lively character Karl.
In your opinion, what do you see in the future of experience for customers at the store? In just like the next 10 years, what is your ideal for that kind of experience?
Teeg Stouffer: One of the things that I think becomes increasingly relevant is the stuff we’ve already talked about – real, live, in person, tangible, true relationship-based experiences. I think that’s a really big deal. Not only being able to build relationship between the retailer, the merchant, and the customer, but customers being able to have a place for real in person relationships. So, I think that’s really important. I’m a relationship first person. It’s my orientation, my viewpoint. We kind of talked about that.
There’s this other thing that we’re doing at the store. I’m going to really show my cards here, guys, try to give your listeners a little bit of a nugget here. One of the things that’s happening in our stores is digitally integrated experiences. So, when you walk into most outdoor stores, what you see is just aisles and aisles of baits on pegs, lures on pegs in packaging, and we’re proud of our packaging. We think we have some of the best packaging in the business. We’ve really invested in our packaging. We have incredible designers who have been super intentional with packaging. So, I think our stuff stands out on pegs, but that already exists. So, if we’re going to stand up a new retail chain, we’re not here to me, too.
I mean, we are very much here to bring innovation. An unofficial mantra for us is “Do not conform.” So, our baits won’t be in packages. They’ll be out of package. They’ll be on tethers on the wall, and we’ll have a digitally connected experience. It doesn’t exist anywhere else. So, you pull the baits off the wall. It’s connected by a retractable zinger, and you pull that bait down – it doesn’t have any hooks on it, we’ve removed the hooks – but then you can hold the bait in your hand, and you can shake the bait and you can hear the rattle. And you can feel it, and you can look at the detail outside of packaging. Anglers love this stuff. In the same way that some people love fashion and they just love every detail on a new shoe, some people love baits, and they love to be able to hold them in their hand. And you can’t do that in most retailers, but you’ll be able to do it at Karl’s.
But even cooler is when you pull that zinger, it triggers a screen, and there’s a video monitor and you’ll be able to see what that bait looks like underwater and how it acts in the water. And then the video will show you how to fish the bait. That doesn’t exist anywhere else. And that really defines us. We’re digitally native and digitally interconnected, but also physical and in person and real, truly real. And so, it’s this digital integration of experiences that I think is the next level and the next frontier. And we’re really stoked to tap into the frontier. And the fishing industry is a little bit, it’s a little old school. So being able to bring innovation, not only just to the retail environment, but to the fishing industry, I’m excited about that. I hope our customers will be too.
Hale: You mentioned education. I noticed also with just looking at the content, you even say like, hey, you’re lure color based on like the clarity of water you’re at, this is what you should do. So, it’s like nice little steps along the way to make you feel kind of in the group.
David Pratt: Yeah, that’s awesome. Are there any experiential retail trends you hope to see or try yourself within the store? I mean, I know you don’t want to give us all your secrets, but is there anything you’re seeing out there that other retailers are doing?
Stouffer: When we were planning the stores, we visited a ton of retailers. And there’s some stuff that happens at fly shops that we think is really cool. I’m a fly fisherman. I love fly fishing and fly fishing culture. There’s a certain like a club, like you’re in on something when you walk into a fly shop, and they make it easy for you to get in on something. And we use humor a lot. If you’ve seen our stuff-
Pratt: It is like your favorite fishing hole, your secret fishing hole. You’ve got to keep that-
Stouffer: Like that, or also just like there’s a certain nod, there’s a certain link of like, oh, I see what you’re wearing. Like, you’re in, you’re one of us. You want a drink? Like, let me get you a drink out of the fridge. Sit down. I got this leather couch over here. Sit down. Let’s talk fishing. I already know you; we’re already familiar. And so, we’re using little tricks like that. We have the fridge in the store for our members.
But there’s other little things. We use humor a lot. Humor’s a huge part of our brand. Let’s not get too serious. This is fishing. Like our mascot, Karl, he’s a funny guy. And we joke around a lot, like Laura, you keep mentioning our social media, our social media’s funny. I mean, humor works well. We hire comedians at Catch Co because they’re funny writers. And so we love humor. Everybody who works at Karl’s, our mascot’s name is Karl VonDibble, which his initials are KVD. He is our chief fishing officer. We can talk more about him. But anyway, Karl VonDibble, that is his name.
Pratt: Yeah, I’m anxious to hear more about Karl.
Stouffer: Yeah, there’s a joke there. There’s a joke in that. But all our associates are not going to be called associates or staff or sales staff or whatever, they’re going to be called VonDibbles and they’re all Karl’s cousins. And that’s just a funny little thing. And it’s like an inside joke that once you have it explained to you, you’re in on the joke. And we’re trying to find ways to get people in on it, whatever it is.
But it’s also true that as we have grown Catch Co over the years, we really have thought quite differently than most of the fishing industry. And we really think more like probably some of the more current aggressive brands. We talk about our customer being the modern angler. And so, we just kind of pursue business in like maybe a more culturally current and more like today way than perhaps some of the other folks in the industry tended to have over the past. And we’re digitally native, so it kind makes sense that you’d see a lot of our marketing in digital environments.
Pratt: There’s nothing old school in anything that I’ve seen you guys do by any stretch. It is great.
Hale: Well, that was actually my last question, because I was going to say, I love the humor and the strategy that you took because it is refreshing and it’s new and approachable as I mentioned before. So, what are some of your favorite sketches with the mascot of Karl? And how do you think that’s going to evolve with the brand over time? Do you think you guys will try to reproach it or kind of stick with what works?
Stouffer: My favorite Karl piece ever is one of the very first, absolute very first Karl ads ever. It’s still out there. You can still get it. It’s kind of a walkthrough piece, and he’s introducing Mystery Tackle Box. It was just so funny in its time. Nobody had ever done anything like it, and its years ago now, and you could still watch it right now, and it’s just so funny. And Karl is like, yeah, he’s introducing the concept of Mystery Tackle Box, but he is doing it so differently than anyone had ever seen. Everything in fishing tends to be very masculine, very NASCAR, very like two blasting motors with rock and roll, and just using humor is so different.
So anyway, one of those very first Karl pieces where he introduces Mystery Talk Box, super funny, he’s like in a desk chair and it looks like there’s a sunset behind him. And then the camera pulls back, and it’s just a picture that somebody’s holding and the person steps out of the frame. And then it just goes on to be funny. Then there’s a series where Karl and Ross, who’s our actual real CEO, he’s our real founder and CEO, Karl and him get in a big fight, and it happens over a series of things. And it’s really funny. And then there’s a whole bunch of Santa Karl things that are so funny. And we’re based in Chicago, and you’ll have to go find it, but like they go knock on a famous person’s door. And like Santa Karl, the series about Santa Karl is so funny, and we bring Santa Karl back at holiday time every year. That’s always funny. Everything Karl does is funny. He’s funny off the cuff. When we bring him to events, he’s just funny.
Pratt: Teeg, I am curious, we’re obviously excited about this store opening here in the next few weeks, give us a little bit of an idea of kind of the future for your bricks and mortars. How many do you see coming? How often, like maybe the next year, two years out?
Stouffer: So, what I would say is it’s an experiment, and that’s kind of our MO. Like, I don’t know if it’s going to work. It looks good on paper, let’s try it. And that’s how you’ll move. We’re going to start with three stores. We are really proud to have this first store in Fort Worth. Our second store- one of the things we’ve talked about with Karl’s for a long time is that it’s America’s tackle shop online. We’ve tried to really carry Karl’s into just a local bait and tackle vibe, but digital.
And so, yes, it’s modern, but we also are all passionate about the heritage of the sport and the history and the iconic parts of our sport or pastime, depending on how you think about it. And so, we are about being America’s tackle shop online. So, if you’re America’s tackle shop, it makes sense in to be in Mall of America. So, our second store will be at Mall of America. And this will be the first time that there’s ever, as much as Minnesota is a fishing state, I mean, it’s the land of 10,000 lakes, there’s never been an outdoor retailer in Mall of America. And so, we’re stoked to be the first time that we’ve ever put a fishing store in the Mall of America. And so that’s store number two.
We’ve got one more up our sleeve that we haven’t announced yet. And then we’re going to see how those do. We hope they do well. And if they do well, we’re going to pop one up in every city.
Pratt: You know what, from everything I’ve heard, it’s going to be awesome. We’re really excited about it.
Hale: We forgot to talk about the Bassmobile.
Stouffer: Oh yeah. Talk about experience.
Hale: She’s 40 feet, open mouth bass, on wheels. What can I do at the Bassmobile?
Stouffer: So, the Bassmobile is our 40 foot bass in a box, and it travels the country spreading the joy of fishing and passion for Catch Co. We talked about how valuable experience is and how valuable it is to meet your customers in real life. Now, I couldn’t be more proud, none of us could be more proud about we have super high trust pilot rating. I think it’s 4.7 or something. Our customer service customer satisfaction rating is like up in the very highest score, 4.7, 4.8. Really, really, really good customer service scores for an online retailer. So, people love us, but they’ve never really met us. And so, Bassmobile put us out there.
And this 40-foot bass in a box travels the US, different city every week, just meeting our people, meeting our community, real time, one on one. People can really meet the ambassadors, Benny and Tyler, who are YouTube influencers, fishing creators in their own right that travel with this thing and live in the bass. And then they do all kinds of stuff. They have fishing games. They teach people to fish. They’ll go to grab a school and take all those kids fishing. They’ll go to big fishing tournaments and show up at places like that. They’ll be at the state fair or county fair and bring kind of a fishing element to that state or county fair. Sometimes they show up at a boat ramp. Sometimes they show up at a campground. Sometimes somebody won a chance to have the Bassmobile at their house, and we threw a party at one of our Karl’s club members’ houses. So, we just do all kinds of super fun stuff with it. But the Bassmobile will be at our grand opening. And of course, we’re stoked about that too.
But the Bassmobile travels to the country, but here’s what it isn’t. It isn’t always on. So, you catch the Bassmobile if you can, when it’s in your town or near you, but it’s not an always on experience. It’s a onetime experience, maybe. And for most people, it’ll never even come to their town. It can’t, it’s just America’s too big. But a store, that’s different. You could come in whenever it works for you. It’s an always on experience, and you count on it, and you come back to it over and over. So, the stores are different than Bassmobile and they do something the Bassmobile can’t.
Pratt: Is there anything else, seriously, you’d like for us to add to this that you can think of that we haven’t touched on?
Stouffer: No, I mean, we’re super excited. We’re super excited to get our doors open on store number one. We plan to learn as we go. And so, we can’t wait to be listening to our customers to hear what they have to say. And our customers are going to have a big say in what this store is like. I mean, that’s kind of part of us, too, that this is a relationship, and it’s a two-way relationship. And we are excited to get to know our community in Fort Worth, to build community in Fort Worth, and develop what this store is over time. And we’ll see where it goes. We’re excited.
Pratt: Teeg, thanks so much for coming on today. We really appreciate getting the insight. We cannot tell you how excited we are about you guys opening June 15th here at WestBend.
Stouffer: We’re excited, too. Thanks for having me. Thanks for all the hard work and accommodation you’ve done getting us going on store number one, and we hope to meet a whole bunch of great people and get them outdoors fishing.