As the need for renewable energy sources rises, traditional companies like Batteries Plus are working to keep up.
“Over the last year or so, we’ve been looking at things that could potentially set us apart in the future,” said Derek Detenber, chief marketing and merchandising officer for the Hartland, Wisconsin-based company.
Batteries Plus partnered with Goal Zero, maker solar panels and generators and home back-up systems, to sell its products in Batteries Plus stores in California. The franchise intends to branch out with Goal Zero products to other markets, pending success in California, Detenber said.
Batteries Plus has evolved its offerings over time as consumers have adapted to using new technology. “You know, the cool thing about this concept is that it’s pretty flexible in the sense that it can evolve with technology advances,” Detenber said. “So, if you go back to the mid-‘90s, the store was full of camcorder batteries and cordless phone batteries. Obviously, you don’t see too many of those anymore.”
Now, the company is moving toward more sustainable options while working to minimize the cost to franchisees. “How do we make it economically feasible for our customers, but also our franchise owners, so we’re not putting the burden on them? I think it is a place that I feel an obligation to play in, given the nature of our business.”
The Batteries Plus team liked Goal Zero’s products, and the partnership “kind of fell together,” he said. “For us, it’s kind of a controlled observation of how this type of category can do within our stores, serving a different type of need.”
Goal Zero started in 2009, with founder Robert Workman’s mission of getting reliable power for every person. The brand sells generators, power banks and solar panels, among other energy products.
Selling these products in Batteries Plus stores is beneficial to the consumer, Detenber said, because these generators aren’t cheap. “You’re spending a few thousand dollars,” he said. “That’s tough without some sort of consultative sell, and that’s the value that I think the partnership, from our perspective, is bringing to customers.”
Batteries Plus fared well in 2021, with sales reaching $608 million—a 13 percent increase over the previous year. So far this year, the brand has deals signed to open 19 new locations in the United States.
When people were stuck inside for a good chunk of 2020 and 2021, many turned to outdoor recreational activities, which involved buying boats, motorcycles and golf carts—which all need batteries—so those categories did well those years, Detenber said.
The cost to open a Batteries Plus location ranges from $221,679 to $431,072.