Despite the use of browsing to refer to the Internet — have you emptied your browser cache lately? — and the negative connotations of “No, I’m just browsing,” I think this is one of the finest activities that a specialty shop can offer. Most people go to an art museum open to the possibility of… Read More

A one-year old Brookline, MA startup designed to help small businesses send customers to each other raised $3 million in seed funding in 2016. And although Nift ( is still in beta mode and focused on 500 Boston-area brick and mortar, service and local online stores, the hope is that the model will expand nationally. The… Read More

Over 21 billion dollars was spent by Americans on Mother’s Day last year, according to the National Retail Federation, a hefty (and inexplicable) increase over the 15.7 billion spent in 2012.  How will you get your share of this growing market?  While 33% of the spending was in department stores, 23% was in local shops and… Read More

If you’ve ever looked at reviews of your store on a site like Yelp, you know how much a negative one can hurt.  So it’s no wonder retailers haven’t been pressing for a site where employees can publicly review their jobs — but it turns out that such a site already exists.  I was looking… Read More

Macy’s has recently announced that it is laying off 10,000 workers, and J C Penney is closing up to 140 stores.  This is not great news for those of us watching the health of retailing in the US, especially since one of the reasons given in a recent article in The Guardian is that “people… Read More

The ipsy subscription box program now has over a million young women waiting by the mailbox every month for a Glam Bag of cosmetic samples, each chosen by a beauty expert to match their skin, eye and hair color.  Companies submit hundreds of products each month in the hopes of getting these “try before you… Read More

When the gift show at the Chicago Merchandise Mart folded, I took the loss hard. For almost 40 years our semiannual trip to “the Mart” had played an important part in our buying — and I’d been a speaker at the shows there for over a decade.  I loved the fact that this historical building… Read More

The sign on the public restrooms at Antigone Books in Tucson, Arizona says “You can’t order these on!”  A witty acknowledgment that independent retailers offer many valued services not available online. Competing on price alone is a game that small shops are bound to lose. But customer service is where we can really shine,… Read More

The odd ghost outline logo of Snapchat is starting to turn up everywhere, but Snapchat is still not on the social media radar of most independent retailers.  Since the company is a rising star in this field, it is probably a good idea to know something about it. If nothing else, this will help raise… Read More

You may think that what goes on inside your store is the most important factor in determining its success, but in fact customers finding parking outside your door also plays an important role. And this is a factor that you can sometimes influence, with the help of your elected officials.  You should make sure that… Read More