Every Man His Shed By Fiona Emberton Retailers have long ignored men and their needs but this situation is fast changing. Men have been seen lurking around shops uncomfortably, often at the door or flipping through magazines. Now, successful retailers are realising that men in general have very different needs as shoppers. We recommend retailers to incorporate the ï¿½menï¿½s shedï¿½ as part of their layout and the good news is that itï¿½s a simple thing to do. Look at Starbucks, like the company or not, they have hit on a winning formula. Individual table and chair + coffee + newspapers and magazines = happy customer. Ensure that any shed does combine not only sofa and a coffee table ï¿½conversation pitsï¿½ but gives people the option of sitting alone in peace to catch up with the news over a cuppa. You can also install a big screen TV to provide world-wide news. In our work we often take library staff for a walk through a shopping area to study the way successful retailers cater to men. Itï¿½s something you can do – look at good clothes and gadget shops as they will have clear category signage so that people donï¿½t have to ask or browse. Large department stores such as John Lewis (UK) and IKEA have incorporated menï¿½s sheds into their product mix to make it easier for families to spend more time there. Successful librarians have understood this and have introduced coffee, wine and news services to great effect. Studies show that libraries who introduce coffee can significantly increase their loans and visitor numbers. The trick is to ensure that the experience blends with your other services to improve their use. So position your ladsï¿½ lit, magazine collections and technology sections close to the coffee to encourage borrowing. Otherwise you may just be providing coffee and nothing else – not our core business. You are there to provide a sense of community ï¿½ a living room of the city as Palmerston North (New Zealand) have. Take care too in the coffee you provide. Avoid negative brand images, it would be safer to stick to fair trade coffees (an especially sensitive issue in the UK). Do not use tacky vending machines. There are some great self service machines out there, some times they are filled and maintained by the company ï¿½ try your Yellow Pages. Ask for a trial run or visit www.espressoessential.com . Even better still, if you have the foot traffic, source a partner to provide a caf or wine bar for you. Ensure you have a strong Service-Level Agreement covering your desired hours of opening, quality of service, pricing and cleanliness standards. Where to locate the shed? In a larger library or shop, we tend to position the caf 2/3rd of the way around the race track (i.e. your pathway around the library). Alternatively, you can locate it at the front, spilling out onto any concourse or foyer you may have. This will help to herald the library service and create a superb first moment of truth for the library. Action Plan Take your team around quality retailers to identify men-friendly retail techniques. Create a living room of individual table and chair formation, as well as sofas. Ask local coffee suppliers to let you trial their self-service machines – go for quality. Consider coffee delivery or a caf.