Ask anyone what their most dreaded season is. Let me rephrase. Ask anyone residing in the Midwest and East Coast their most hated time of year, (Hawaii and California you keep your mouth shut with your 70 degree weather). Most of this population segment will immediately respond with no thought or elapsed time… Winter. During those four months of the year (Punxsutawney Phil willing), life shuts down.
But there is one that is far worse that many people forget… Tax season. There is no down-stuffed Michelin Man coat warm enough to protect you from this forgotten season’s chilling elements. Come February, every topic of conversation begins with, “Have you done your taxes yet?” The replies are varied. Some take the jokingly naïve approach, “What are taxes?” while others are blatantly aggressive, “Big Brother doesn’t own me!” Rarely, you’ll get the one over-achiever who says, “Sure did! And I’m getting $3,000 back!”… But let’s not mention them.
Most of us are in the former category. And while we make up excuses to sidetrack the conversation, secretly we are trying to navigate this annual headache.
While there are abundant and reputable tax services available online, there is that certain je ne sais quoi about meeting with a physical human that makes you feel like they have your best interest at heart.
Most major tax preparation companies including H&R Block, Liberty Tax and Jackson Hewitt have year-round storefronts to better serve their customers’ needs. However, these brick and mortar locations are often afterthoughts and not positioned to be placed in visible, high traffic zones. Do you know where your closest H&R Block is located? Chances are, probably not.
This is where tax companies can take advantage of opening up their own Pop-Up Store ventures during the 4 month tax season stretch. Instead of forcing customers to drive out to suburban zones at abandoned strip malls, inserting a Pop-Up Shop in a more urban centralized environment is more attractive.
H&R Block has released a series of seasonal tax service pop-up shops in strategic locations to capture more foot traffic than that of their major competitors. For example, one H&R location opened its doors in Durham, North Carolina adjacent to a Sears Department store. This placement was not happenstance.
The company realized the opportunity where others did not. People love to shop, especially in mall environments. By opening a tax preparation service in a shopping mall atmosphere, H&R Block transformed from a burdensome chore to a convenient item they can check off their “to-do list”. Walking into a retail storefront becomes less intimidating, and entirely more accessible than that of a stand-alone space.
On this same accord, another option tax companies are considering is opening a “store-within-store” Pop-Up Store inside a larger parent company. Big box retailers are often welcoming of this separate vendor/retailer concept, notably Walmart. One can often find a McDonalds, an Optician, or both flanking either side of Walmart’s entryways. This season, tax companies are also joining the game by opening up their open pop-up shop within participating Walmart locations. In collaboration with Walmart, Jackson Hewitt will offer personal tax preparation for consumers inside Walmart retailer stores. Customers enjoy free estimates, basic returns filed for free, and low cost pricing on other filing options.
When the word free is added to the equation, more individuals may be eager to try this method. In addition, Walmart is an extremely lucrative partnership. The brand is present in almost every town across the United States. Jackson Hewitt will achieve exponential customer exposure with these pop-up shops; something that would be more difficult if they adhered to their original model of smaller, outlying retail sites.
Thankfully tax season is over in a few short months. Soon after we all will be (hopefully) fanning ourselves with tax refund dollar bills, and reminiscing about the coldest tax season on record. Except for you Hawaii and California, you two still better keep quiet.