Forrest Gump famously said “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”  And while surprises may be delightful when it comes to sweets, planning for the right assortment of merchandise will make you a better retailer. The success of your store depends on having what customers expect, and what… Read More


The phrase name “Venmo Me” is already in wide use among the tech-savvy, and yet this way of paying for purchases may not be familiar to all shopkeepers. That is in part because the program was originally used by friends or colleagues to share expenses, and has only recently become yet another cash-free payment option… Read More


Dee-Ann Durbin wrote in a recent AP article that “Hotel and home-sharing companies don’t just want to sell you a room anymore. They also want to sell you an experience.”  And what is one of the most popular experiences for people on vacation? Shopping! The trend towards spending money on experiences rather than material goods,… Read More


The environmental hazards of plastic straws are making headlines at the moment, but the debate about the use of plastic bags by retailers has been raging for some time. It has been four years since California first enacted legislation imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail stores, as well as a… Read More


If only vendors shipped everything on order every time — wouldn’t that make our lives as retailers so much easier? But the reality is that there are frequently products out of stock at the time a shipment is being picked and packed. When you mark an order “ship complete,” you may never get any of… Read More


Have you considered creating a video for your store?  It’s a great way to promote your business through social media, and to give online visitors a sense of the people behind your business.  We’ve just created a new one for Orange Tree Imports, so I thought I’d share a few tips. Consider hiring a professional. … Read More


This week we celebrate both American Independence Day and Canada Day.  These holidays draw attention the importance of a democratic form of government based on the idea that every citizen should be able to be actively involved in major decisions.  In the early days of our shop we attended a talk by a University of… Read More


We’re hosting an open house for our top 100 customers this week, based on their annual purchases in our preferred customer program.  We plan to serve food samples from neighboring restaurants, and to demonstrate some of our most popular kitchen gadgets. A few weeks ago we asked a few of our sales reps for items… Read More


Making your shop windows and in-store displays “Instagram-worthy” can lead to some free PR on social media, and also give you some great images to post.  One way to pull your visual merchandising together is to work with a theme — and there are more options available for this than you might think. If your… Read More


I like to think of myself as the #1 cheerleader for independent retailers, but I must admit that I get a bit discouraged every time I read of another store closing due to competition from Amazon. The latest casualty here in Madison, WI is Sacred Feather, a haberdashery (or hat shop, to the uninitiated) located… Read More