How Johnny Cupcakes has nothing to do with cupcakes (and why people talk about it)

johnny-cupcakesWhat started as a nickname for Johnny “Cupcakes” Earle has blossomed into a multi-million dollar apparel business. Founded in 2001, today Johnny Cupcakes (the business) employs more than 30 people and had 2008 sales of $3.8 million.

One of the keys to Johnny Cupcakes’ success: Earle’s philosophy of shopping as entertainment — the kind you walk out telling everyone about.

Johnny Cupcakes doesn’t actually sell cupcakes in their locations, but they’ve got ovens, glass bakery cases displaying clothes, employees wear aprons, and they even hide vanilla-scented air fresheners throughout their Boston shop to make it smell like a bakery.

Here’s Johnny Earle describing the experience to Inc. Magazine:

“It’s impossible to tell from the outside that we don’t sell food,” says Earle. “When people find we don’t have cupcakes, some get mad. But even the ones who get upset tell the story about how some stupid kid tricked them into going into his store. Everyone talks about us.”

The Lesson: What kind of experience does your store offer? What gets everyone talking on the way out?

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