It's an All Star lineup for new retail venture

Monday, April 26, 2010

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. – Mike Kuller faced a steep learning curve when it came to opening his new retail business, but the respiratory provider was prepared to do his homework.

“Retail is a completely different animal,” said Kuller. “I had to think about everything from a different


In May, Kuller plans to open All Star Medical Supply here. Unlike its sister company, All Star Oxygen Services in Concord, the new venture will focus on cash sales.

“The best thing I can do is diversify away from Medicare,” he said.

The local demographics are certainly attractive. Statewide, seniors comprise about 12.5% of the population. In Walnut Creek, that number is 28% with an average household income of $75,000, said Kuller. A 10,000-member upscale retirement community is located nearby.

“With those demographics, it’s crying for a good medical equipment store,” he said. “I plan to open the Nordstrom of home medical equipment and do everything I can to make the customers happy.”

The new 3,000-square-foot location is easily accessible with parking. It will carry DME like scooters, disposable medical supplies and soft goods. Kuller worked with retail consultant Jack Evans to create a well-lit open space.

For providers entering retail, the biggest transition is the move from a warehouse to a retail space, said Evans, who sent Kuller on field trips to check out other retail operations.

“Suddenly, you have to think about décor, you have to think about what to put on the floor and the walls,” said Evans, president of Global Media Marketing. “When Mike visited other stores, he could visibly see how medical equipment fits into the home setting. He needed an entirely new environment to sell these retail products.”

In addition to calling on likely referral sources, Kuller planned to advertise in the regular local newspaper as well as the retirement community’s weekly and was mailing brochures to existing customers. He already has a display ad in the local phone book and was fielding two to three calls a day from potential customers.

“The demand seems to be there,” said Kuller.