The year was 1978. Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. The Bee Gees topped the charts with “Stayin’ Alive.” The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. And on July 1, The Container Store opened its doors in a small, 1,600 square-foot retail space in Dallas.
Kip Tindell (Chairman and CEO), Garrett Boone (Chairman Emeritus) and Architect John Mullen opened a store offering an exceptional and eclectic mix of products devoted to helping people organize and simplify their lives. In doing so, they originated a completely new category of retailing, that of storage and organization. Initial cash capital was provided by Garrett, his father, and John Mullen, who were founding directors, officers and shareholders of the company.
Our very first store was filled with products that consumers couldn’t find in any other retail environment. They were things like commercial parts bins, wire drawers, mailboxes and popcorn tins, burger baskets, milk crates and wire leaf burners. The product collection was quite unusual, but when used in a home or office, the solutions saved customers space and, ultimately, time. At first, customers were dubious. “A store that sells empty boxes?” they would ask. Many seriously doubted The Container Store would ever make it. But somehow, our co-founders had a hunch that time would become more and more scarce. And I bet you would agree it has done so, despite the time-saving technology available at our fingertips. In addition to our time-saving products, they also had an early focus on treating employees and vendors like they would want to be treated and as partners in the business.
Today, with locations from coast to coast, our stores average 25,000 square-feet and offer more than 10,000 innovative products to help customers save space and, ultimately, save them time. The store layout is divided into lifestyle sections marked with brightly colored banners such as Closet, Kitchen, Office and Laundry. Wherever you look in the store, there’s a cheerful employee who’s ready to help solve everything from the tiniest of storage problems to the most intimidating organizational challenges. We want our customers to receive unparalleled service, along with fresh ideas and a very interactive shopping experience. And that’s the case however our customers choose to connect with us – in our stores, online, from their smart phones, or via our social communities.
Creating a differentiated shopping experience is not just about any one thing. It’s a complex mix of so many things. But the ultimate reward, the validation that the experience was successful is what we call getting the customer dance. It’s everything about the customer experience that happens in the store and continues on after that customer gets home. Her heart rate goes up, up, up with every interaction with the brand. It’s about what occurs when she takes the product home and actually lives with it. We want her to do a little dance every time she opens that closet door in the morning because it’s so beautifully organized. So perfect for her. Frankly, she feels an emotional connection to her closet. The product—the solution—it transcends value for her.
And the dance is really happening when she has her friends, sister in law and neighbor over to see her closet and they want to feel that way every morning so they make a trip to The Container Store to find out how they can experience that feeling. We’ve had customers tell us over and over again how our stores are a peaceful, organized oasis after a really stressful day or, even better, after a trip to our store they say it was more fun than Disneyland.
We’re so humbled to hear our customers say they love us. What an achievement to build a brand where the people associated with it don’t just enjoy the brand, they somehow feel a part of it.