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The first step was for bookstores like Barnes & Noble to open coffee bars, hoping to encourage shoppers to hang out longer and buy more.

Now, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that clothing boutiques in that city are taking the next step – serving free beer to customers. Retailers that are doing so are “responding to retail's metamorphosis from simple commerce to something bigger: a lifestyle, an activity that defines us, a connection to culture and community.”

And even more interesting – in at least one case, the beer is being provided to the retailer for free by Peroni, along with a free mini-refrigerator in which to store it.

Shop owners say they don’t need a liquor license because they aren’t selling the beer, and that they watch customers carefully to make sure they don’t over-indulge.
KC's View:
Once again, compelling retailing in the 21st century can turn on creating a sense of community with consumers. That’s what these stores are doing, and what an awful lot of other retailers ought to be thinking about.

Speaking for ourselves, we have to say that we think this is a terrific trend. We can’t tell you how many times Mrs. Content Guy has dragged us into a store and we end up sitting in a chair just waiting, waiting, waiting. Man, a cold beer and maybe a television or a newspaper would go a long with creating a better experience. At least for us.