Container Store thinks outside the box - East Valley Tribune: Business

Container Store thinks outside the box

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Posted: Friday, September 5, 2008 7:18 pm | Updated: 8:45 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Dozens of people sporting colorful T-shirts proclaiming the company motto, "Contain Yourself," stocked shelves, constructed clever closet setups or clustered into small groups to discuss the varied uses of plastic shoeboxes and bamboo bins.

The supermarket-sized Container Store is still a week from opening, but employees are readying the retailer for its Arizona debut.

Container Store, Hayden Rd., Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, SCOTTSDALE, PHOENIX, Bell Rd., Mayo Blvd., Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Thompson Peak Pkwy., Loop 101, Map by Scott Kirchhofer/EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE

The stash-or-organize-anything shop is scheduled to throw open its doors Sept. 13 at the Whole Foods-anchored shopping center on the southwest corner of Scottsdale Road and Mayo Boulevard.

It will sell more than 10,000 products, from tiny plastic bags for crafters' bead storage to unlimited-size, design-it-yourself shelving systems.

You can buy plastic hangers in a dozen different colors for 29 cents each, and a high-tech trash can for $179.

Baskets woven from Japanese newspapers will set you back $10 to $12.

A tablespoon-size plastic scoop will cost you 89 cents. The 64-ounce version will set you back $15.

There's a $250 suitcase, the most expensive single item in the store, but 80 percent of the products cost less than $20, said Audrey Robertson, Container Store spokeswoman.

You can spend thousands, however, on a closet redo, depending on the size and scope of your space and your budget, Robertson said.

If you walk in with a storage problem, Container Store employees can help you solve it, said Casey Priest, marketing vice president.

A big part of their training is brainstorming typical and not-so-typical ways to use the products, she said. "If you are dancing in your closet every morning, we've done our job," Priest said.

But while Container Store employees are ready to help design major closet makeovers, usually customers walk in with much simpler situations, she said.

So if it's a too-crowded kitchen drawer, there are measuring cups that fold flat. If it's lugging bags from the store next door to your fourth-floor apartment, there is a wide variety of fold-flat rolling carts to choose from.

There's a whole section devoted to hooks, and several aisles with boxes of different sizes, shapes, colors and designs.

"We like to think out of the box," said inventory control expert Carrie Paynter, not meaning to produce a pun.

And the trash section - yes, there is one - is a wonderland of covered and uncovered, step-open and push-button, plastic, wood and stainless-steel cans to store waste stylishly.

If shelves are your thing, the good news is that the whole company is in the midst of its annual shelving sale, Robertson said. Every shelf in the store is discounted 25 percent until mid-October.

The typical Container Store customer is "female, 35 to 60 years old, college-educated, well-traveled, busy, juggling and looking for somebody to give her sanity back and simplify her life so she can do the things she wants to do instead of looking for her keys," Priest said.

That describes the demographics of people who live in the northeast Phoenix and Scottsdale area, Priest said, and that persuaded the company to choose a spot on the border of the two cities for its first store in the state.

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