Smart phones are becoming common companions in the shopping experience, and are changing the nature of our interaction with our customers.  Have you thought of ways to take advantage of this recent phenomenon? The Orange Tree Imports customer in the photo above is using his iPhone to send his mother a photo of an apron… Read More

Successful marketing through Facebook is dependent on having a lot of friends — or fans — for your shop. It’s a challenge to motivate customers to take the extra step to go to Facebook and click on “like.” I’m inspired by a small tea shop here on Monroe Street in Madison that has over 3,000… Read More

Bringing shoppers into your store should be the goal of all your promotional efforts — and if your promotion benefits a worthwhile organization at the same time, it’s a win-win situation!  Yesterday we hosted an event in our store that raised $1,000 for scholarships for my alma mater, the U.W. Scandinavian Studies Department.  And I’m… Read More

“I personally recommend this” are very powerful words in the interaction between a salesperson and a customer. (OK, not as powerful as “free,” but we need to stay in business!)  Shoppers are eager for ideas about what to buy, and as specialty shop retailers we are in a unique position to make meaningful personal recommendations. … Read More

We love it when our suppliers make their closeouts and overstocks available to our shop instead of selling them to T J Maxx or Marshall’s.  The fact that customers can find products at these discount outlets very similar to the ones we’re offering at full price makes us independent retailers look bad, and cheapens the… Read More

We all learn from our mistakes — hopefully! Neil Patel, who describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur,” has compiled a list of the 17 things he wishes he’d known when he went into business.  He offers them up in a blog entry on Geekwire so that you can avoid making these mistakes yourself. Here are… Read More

The Buy Local mentality is alive and well among our neighboring businesses here on Monroe Street in Madison, WI.  About 40 of the shops, restaurants and service providers on our street offer informal discounts for those who work on Monroe Street (or own their own business). The vast majority offer 10% off goods or services,… Read More

We recently spoke with the owner of Full Compass Systems (retailers of professional audi/video equipment) and she told us that her staff gets as much as four hours of product training a week, all year round.  You can imagine how knowledgable these sales associates are about every item they sell.  Got a question?  They’ll have… Read More

Christmas is just two months away, so it’s time to make a list — and check it twice — so that you can succeed in creating some special seasonal spirit for your customers.  Although shopping in December can be stressful, the original touches that independent businesses and local shopping areas add to the season often… Read More

Hiring great employees is essential to retail success. Our sales associates are the key to providing excellent customer service, and efficient “back of house” staff members are mandatory for the smooth operation of the store.  Although salary is not the only factor in attracting and retaining good employees, you want to make sure that your… Read More