The emails and letters from our vendors are starting to trickle in: “we’ve held our prices as long as we can” or “due to changes in trade policies, we regret to inform you that…” It’s been a while since we’ve seen across-the-board increases in wholesale prices, but higher tariffs usually mean an increase the cost… Read More

Everybody Googles – and if your shop is like many small businesses, Google is probably the primary way that potential customers are finding your store online. A recent analysis of our website showed that although thousands of people connected with us thanks to Google, we have a rather disappointing keyword ranking in the categories we… Read More

Autumn is here, and it’s time to think about what you can do to use the change of seasons to draw customers in. Even if you don’t sell Halloween or Thanksgiving merchandise, you should take advantage of this new period on the retail calendar. A change in the color or mood in your store can… Read More

It’s easy to get discouraged about the state of retailing — and I bet you wouldn’t have trouble coming up with a list of the ten worst things about being an independent shopkeeper. But it’s better for our businesses, our employees and our customers if we stay positive – so here is my list (which… Read More

The current shortage of potential employees is changing the way some independent retailers do business – owners are working more, and some shops are cutting back their hours. With unemployment hovering at around 2% here in Madison, Wisconsin, we  get very few applicants when we have an opening. One of our neighboring businesses, Bloom Bake… Read More

Are you making good use of Instagram Stories? The idea was apparently inspired by Snapchat, the popular disappearing social media platform on which messages, photos and videos “self-destruct” 10 seconds after they are viewed. Snapchat Stories is a feature that allows the sender to share one day’s worth of pictures that can be viewed together,… Read More

Maslow’s famous pyramid chart showing human being’s hierarchy of needs demonstrates that the needs at the bottom of the triangle (food, water, warmth and rest) must be met before those higher up can be attended to. I’ve creating a simple version for shopkeepers, with people as the most important component. You’ll notice that I didn’t… Read More

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