What does your shop have in common with The Metropolitan Museum of Art?  Aside from a few items that you’ve kept on the shelf long enough for them to become antiquities, it’s probably the need to find the right person to fill every job.  We all know that excellent employees are necessary for excellent customer… Read More


I have always valued the fact that my sales reps bring valuable information and experience with them to help me make good buying decisions. But Lois Jordan, our sales rep for Two’s Company, has gone the average rep one better.  She has generously offered to bring a dozen Nigerian dwarf dairy goats, some chickens and… Read More


Everyone hates getting unsolicited e-mails offering dubious body-enhancing products and fake brand-name watches. But when a customer entrusts you with their e-mail address, you know that an e-mail from your store will be welcome. This type of permission-based e-mail marketing is the latest thing in advertising: an expensive way to keep in touch regularly with… Read More


I love unusual words that are unique to retailing, and “shelf talker” definitely falls into that category.   We know that we can’t possibly tell every customer all we want them to know about a product, and the idea of a “shelf talker” sign is that it gives the shopper the story behind an item.  It… Read More


You would expect to find mugs in the gift shop at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin featuring popular Shakespearean insults such as “You Rampallian! You Fustilarian! You clod of wayward mal!”  But when Ellen DuPuy, the outdoor theater’s Retail Manager, looks for new products, she goes beyond the logical inclusions of  licensed merchandise,… Read More


I was charmed by this vintage postcard, which shows Lobster King Harry Hackney with his Lobster Waitresses in their prize-winning costumes for the Atlantic City Beauty Pageant Parade in about 1950.  You can imagine the buzz in the kitchen as word got out to Harry’s staff that they were going to compete dressed as lobsters. … Read More


I’ve always been relieved that critics don’t review retail shops. Imagine putting your life savings and entrepreneurial dreams into a restaurant, only to have someone tear it apart because one visit didn’t meet their expectations.   Well, it turns out that today customers do indeed write reviews of stores, online, using their own blogs or… Read More


I’m sure Match.com doesn’t ask any questions about how compatible you and your prospective mate would be when it comes to running a business together, and yet the concept of a couple operating a store is so engrained in our American culture that the term “Mom and Pop store” actually appears in the dictionary.  So… Read More


Communities around the U.S., including ours here in Dane County, Wisconsin,  are taking advantage of the 4th of July Independence Day holiday to shoot off some PR fireworks calling attention to their independent businesses.  This effort is part of the Buy Local movement, which draws on the interests of economists, farmers, politicians, environmentalists and retailers.… Read More


Summer time may mean picnics, swimming and camping to some folks, but to shopkeepers it means it’s summer trade show season. I’m going to share with you a 10 minute tip that will make you seem like a pro when you go to your favorite trade shows. But first I want to make sure you’re… Read More