Monday, April 21, 2008

How Did a Brand Die?

I returned last week from an extended road trip through Wyoming and Montana. During the trip I looked for subjects to write about and found no shortage. I'll leave the plight of Native Americans to other writers, but the view from the freeway was not encouraging. I also found an interesting idea about entrepreneurship and the annual summer ritual in cattle country involving male calves, but I will leave that one to others as well!

What I did notice on two occasions was the unique gable architecture of buildings that had once been Stuckey's and Nickerson Farms roadside restaurants. As you may remember they were once scattered throughout the US with their brand identification pulling in travelers off the interstates for food, snacks and souvenirs. Now, I can't recall seeing a single one in operation. What happened? How could operations of such size and identity just disappear? Unfortunately, I don't know the specific reason but it obviously involved mismanagement operationally, strategically, financially, or all three. If someone knows either of the stories, please send it to me. And, it's not that the concept was not viable because Cracker Barrel is substantially the same as what Stuckey's and Nickerson Farms once were. Cracker Barrel has tremendous brand loyalty. People in the East and Southeast plan their road trips around Cracker Barrel locations. One distinction may be that Cracker Barrel, while near interstate highways is also in urban locations. But if that were the key distinction, why didn't the other two see that and adjust their strategy?

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