Words by Matt Alexander | Published 09.16.19

As an unrepentant nerd, I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed well-written and thoughtful release notes for software updates. (Yes. I know. Calm down.)

I’m not talking about generic comments (e.g., “bug fixes and improvements”) or excessively overwrought micro-narratives (e.g., “the curtain drops and reveals Changes to our app”), but those that actually seek to provide a modest amount of insight into what’s been updated, modified, fixed, or otherwise.

If I particularly rely on — or enjoy — an app, I think it’s in my best interest to know. And, equally, to follow along with the thought process for the company or the developer.

It’s easy for these updates and modifications to become invisible. In the upcoming release of iOS 13, app updates — and their associative release notes — are somewhat hidden from view. The idea, evidently, is to allow for these to just update quietly in the background with little awareness for the end-user.

Which is fine, I suppose. But, for me, I care about the small changes. And I think it’s important that we share, celebrate, and discuss them, as well. So, that’s my reason. It’s Good, okay. Stop judging. This is all going somewhere.

With all of these various words in mind, late last year, I began toying with the notion of creating monthly release notes for the ever-evolving project that is Neighborhood Goods.

In November, just ahead of our opening, our team drove our bodies into the ground to get the store ready for an event with friends, family, partners, investors, and the like on November 15, 2018. It all, truly, came down to the final 60 minutes, but we got it done. I remember that, arrogantly, I’d suggested we wouldn’t all need to stay in Plano beyond that night, as the store would be ready. We’d do press interviews and walkthroughs on the Friday, tidy up a bit, host some training sessions, and go back to our homes before the full public opening.

November 16, however, became probably the most chaotic and messy day of the whole project. We ended up at the store through most of the night working on the minutiae of the project: barcodes, pushing Apple for expedited app release, drastically re-merchandising brand spaces, discovering flaws in our music system, and so on.

At the end of the day on November 17, our grand opening, I remember all of the team were slumped around the bar at Prim and Proper. The store was doing fantastically well and had been well-received, but I think we were all abruptly struck by the fact that we now had to run this thing. It was no longer just an idea.

Reflecting on those moments today, I wish we’d kept better track of all the little things we did. We certainly kept track of the big picture, logging all of our successes and failures to better inform our expansion efforts. But it’s the little ideas that often have the greatest impact on the customer experience. And on days like November 16 — and really most days since — we’ve just continued to throw ideas at our 14,000 square foot laboratory in Plano, Texas to test and learn.

It feels like time to share some of those ideas — good and bad — with our amazing communities of customers, brands, and, indeed, with the industry-at-large.

Indeed, from the earliest documents describing the Neighborhood Goods concept, I’d always felt strongly that transparency would be incredibly important, largely because of those three different groups. Amongst many, many other reasons:

  • For customers, the concept of change at Neighborhood Goods has become a significant driver for repeat visits and repeat purchases. People will visit for an event, out of loyalty to a brand we’ve introduced, or out of sheer curiosity. And, as it changes and evolves — both in terms of selection and physical appearance — it’d be important for us to be able to succinctly telegraph the process.
  • For brands, there are so many reasons for working with us. Whether for selling a raw quantity of products or driving customer acquisition or profiting from traditional brand adjacency, it’s important for brands to participate in an ever-changing environment that only continues to elevate them, provide new customers, and offer new perspectives around their performance.
  • For the industry-at-large, people would be curious. For clarity, I don’t mean that in the sense of ego or pretentiousness on our part. Rather, prominent retail-minded analysts and writers have been contemplating the existence of something like Neighborhood Goods for years. And, now that it’s here, there’d be natural curiosity as to how it works, what happens with our retailers, and how we manage some of our day-to-day.

So, today, we’re proud to introduce a monthly series, Release Notes, wherein we’ll be sharing what we changed, why, and what impact it had in the store. (Stores soon.)

We’ve begun with some fairly high-level metrics, including moves (i.e., number of physical brand and merchandising shifts), number of events, dwell time, number of brand introductions and exits, and so on. And, in addition to the raw numbers, some commentary to provide additional context.

If you’re curious about some we’re not sharing — within reason, we’re not going to share everything — feel free to tweet us at @nbhdgoods with any requests. Equally, if you want to chat with us about what all of this means, we’re all ears and keen to chat.

With this small blog series, in addition to some of our existing team member and brand founder profiles and takeovers on Instagram we hope to start delivering much more on the basis of transparency and community.

Matt Alexander, Co-founder & CEO