The first days of 2010 will soon be upon us, so it is time to think about New Year’s resolutions. The recent Gifts and Dec Direct online poll showed that some 50 percent of voters in last week’s poll plan to make resolutions for their personal lives and their business. So aside from wanting to eat less and exercise more (the most common New Year’s resolutions for all Americans), what do you hope to do differently in the coming year?

I stopped in at Chiripa, a charming Artisan Crafts of the Americas shop here in Madison started by one of our former employees and her business partner, and asked them that question.

Kathryn Leide immediately said she wanted to do more networking with other retailers, and invited me to lunch.  Sounds like a great way to start January (especially if neither of us has resolved to eat less!). Her partner, Beth Robinson, said that she hoped to plan for Christmas 2010 in the spring instead of putting it off.

They both resolved to look into using social media more, which is something I hear from many other retailers as well.  (They already do a great job using a blog on their web site to personalize their business.) If you are not using e-mail newsletters and Facebook posting to promote your business — together with you regular plan of advertising — you’re missing a good bet.

I hope that your resolutions included going to at least two trade shows this year, and attending a seminar at each one. I’d be happy to see you at the one that I am giving at the New York Gift Fair on Buying Basics (Sunday, February 1 at 3:30).

Two final suggestions for your list of resolutions: I hope that you will look at ways to maintain a healthy bottom line by selling more, getting better markup on what you sell, and watching expenses.  But most important, I hope that you will keep your business and personal life in good balance, finding time for the things which bring you joy both inside and outside your store.

Happy Retailing and Happy New Year,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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