Apps such as BringFido reflect the current cultural shift towards allowing dogs to accompany owners wherever they go. Instead of “Service Dogs Only” signs, you now sometimes find a canister of canine treats behind the counter. One of our business neighbors reports that offering dog biscuits has led to an increase in customer visits initiated… Read More


“Don’t let inventory become family” is one of my favorite retail sayings. We all know the feeling of bringing in merchandise because we love it,  hoping that just the right customer will come in who loves it too. It’s sometimes hard to accept the fact that it is costing the shop money to hold onto… Read More


A decade ago I posted some of my top advice to retailers – this blog was only a year old at the time, but I already had over 30 years of experience as a shopkeeper.  I thought it might be fun to revisit the ten points that seemed important back then, and am pleased to… Read More


Time clocks will soon have gone the way of the buggy whip (although as specialty retailers, we realize there is probably still niche market somewhere even for those).  Now that all of our employees have smart phones, the modern way of scheduling and tracking employees seems to be through a mobile app, sometimes combined with… Read More


Family funds, bank loans, credit cards – where do you turn for money to finance your inventory? These have long been the big 3 sources of financing for independent retailers. In fact, many of us haven’t ever heard of fintech. The term (short for financial technology) refers to companies providing financial services to businesses using… Read More


The 4th season of the popular TV comedy Schitt’s Creek features one of the main characters opening a “wellness” gift shop called Rose Apothecary. David and his partner Patrick start with a collection of local body products and eventually expand into wine, cheese, and home décor. When business is slow (Season 4, Episode 6, if… Read More


A frequently asked question by retailers is whether it is legal to charge a customer a processing fee for the convenience of using a credit card. And the flip side – it is legal for our vendors to add a surcharge to their invoices when we pay by credit card? We all know that accepting… Read More


We all get asked for donations on a regular basis – in fact on a slow day, the requests seem to outnumber the sales. It’s long been our policy to give a gift card to the causes we decide to support, since this usually brings the recipient into the store to shop. For larger donations… Read More


Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, can always be counted on for inspiration and techniques for living a better life. Her latest book, Outer Order/Inner Calm, promises that you can make more room for happiness by decluttering and organizing. This trend towards minimalism, led by Marie Kondo, is not always good news for those… Read More


You’ll probably see the icons for Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest on the smart phones of most independent retailers. It really helps to  see what your customers are seeing when they visit your pages on social media platforms – and hopefully you are following other businesses like yours, as well as the shops and restaurants near… Read More