Secret shopper advises communities to look inward

By Alex Johnson


Over the course of nearly a week, Roger and Jane Brooks of Roger Brooks International, secretly shopped the business districts in Burlington and Waterford posing as visitors in an effort to measure the allure of both communities.

The couple delivered their findings to business owners, city officials and interested residents on June 20 at Veteran’s Terrace in Burlington.

“This is an honest look at you from somebody on the outside – no holds barred,” said Brooks. “At the end of the day you’re going to be judged on your product.”

Contracted by Real Racine to explore Racine County, Brooks and his wife gave no warning to shop owners or community members and received no input on what to do or where to go.

“We came in like any first-time visitor,” Brooks said.

After exploring the area, Brooks assigned the image of “country living” to both Burlington and Waterford, noting the rural lifestyle while still being relatively close to areas such as Lake Geneva, downtown Milwaukee, and Chicago.

Brooks said that one of the first items people want to see when choosing to live in one community or another is their school district compared to neighboring options.

Providing links to school district ratings on local websites would ultimately help people make the decision to move to areas like Waterford and Burlington, according to Brooks.

Brooks said that improving downtown areas should be Waterford and Burlington’s top priority. He said 80 percent of all spending for visitors is downtown shopping.

“Here’s the big deal: 70 percent of that (shopping) happens after 6 p.m.,” Brooks said. “There’s the question: Are you open?”

To read the full story see the June 28 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.