Whether you’re traveling on buying trips, vacation or for family visits this summer, I hope you’ll go shopping.  That, is after all one of the top-ranked activities for travelers of all types — but for retailers, visiting other stores can be a great source of inspiration. That’s one of the main reasons that gift shows… Read More

Do you know what the number one item that has been searched for in Google since it started? Britney Spears!  I’m not sure what that says about our society, but as a retailer, I found it telling that the number two search target today is “coupons.” I recently went to a seminar sponsored by Google… Read More

With rare exceptions, those of us who run specialty shops are not selling the basics needed for survival. Instead we are allowing customers a respite from their harried lives, and hopefully providing a pleasurable shopping experience.  As this flower vendor at the Dane County Farmers’ Market says on her sign, we offer emotional stimulus and… Read More

We have been keeping store photo albums since we started in business almost 35 years ago, documenting every window display and all major staff events. This gives us a treasure trove of display ideas, as well as a starting point for discussing what has worked best in our windows over the years. These albums also… Read More

If you are like me, you’ve been too busy keeping your store afloat to participate in a “flash mob.” These are happenings in which a large number of people suddenly show up in a public location, having been alerted via e-mail, cell phones, Facebook, and other social media. They then perform a brief, unique act… Read More

My friend Mary Lang Solinger, who had years of retail experience under her belt before turning her attention to good causes and liberal politics, pointed out recently that many people are now collecting experiences rather than “things.” Not good news for retailers, you might think — but as Mary points out, as store owners we… Read More

As if you didn’t have enough to worry about, the latest issue of Stores magazine (the monthly publication of the National Retail Federation) reports that Organized Retail Crime is estimated to have had an impact on 85% of all retailers in 2008. Organized crime can hit your store in the form of a ring of… Read More

If you build it, will they come? With over 100 million web sites now in existence, it is a challenge to draw people to the “clicks” part of your retail operation. But there are creative ways to use your “bricks” store to draw customers to your online presence.  One way is of course to include… Read More

Our shop is lucky to be part of a strong buy local movement, and I can tell you that the support of consumers who want to help independent businesses survive in this tough economy has made a real difference in our store’s success.  If you are not already involved in encouraging consumers in your area… Read More

One of our neighboring business owners recently had an emergency appendectomy. Like many small retailers, she didn’t have health insurance, but this surgery wasn’t optional. Her bill came to $27,000, and although the hospital has agreed to reduce the total, she will be paying off the debt for years. We have banded together to do… Read More