Shopping has never gone away – despite the challenges of COVID-19, most of us can find whatever we need (or want) online.  But what is missing is the pleasurable experience of browsing before we buy.   In a recent survey of what small thing people miss the most, I was surprised at how often grocery… Read More

Many of our stores are closed at the moment, causing an unplanned separation from our staff and our customers.  Orange Tree Imports celebrated its 45th anniversary on May 1, which normally would be cause for an open house, special offers, refreshments, and a staff reunion for the 250 or so people who have worked for… Read More

The definition of “essential” for a retail store during the pandemic seems to vary a great deal from state to state – the craft beer store across the street from us is considered a priority here in Wisconsin, whereas bookstores are not.  My friend Amy Moore, owner of Little Luxuries on State Street in Madison,… Read More

There is so much confusion about grants and programs available to small businesses at the moment, and things change quickly as the money runs low.  But I want to make sure that independent retailers know there are some potential sources of assistance beyond the well-publicized (and controversial) federal Small Business Administration loans. A recent article… Read More

Gift cards have always been a great way to bring new shoppers into your store – but during the COVID-19 crisis, they have become an important way for customers to show their support.  Buying a gift card today is in essence providing a small loan to a favorite small businesses, payable at a later date… Read More

One of the recommended antidotes to anxiety during these trying times is to reach out to help someone, and there are countless examples of people and companies doing just that.  In the gift industry, several of our vendors have pivoted to use their manufacturing facilities for the production of much needed medical supplies. As Caroline… Read More

Dozens of emails from our vendors have landed in my inbox over the past week stating how concerned they are about the impact of COVID-19 on independent retailers.  To be truthful, I am concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on my vendors – but I realize that keeping stores alive will help us both. What… Read More

We are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis for small businesses everywhere, and I am not afraid to admit that I find it scary.  Our shop is closed, like so many others, although for the time being we are able to offer curbside pickup of orders to go. One of our business neighbors, the… Read More

I wrote about the idea of BOPIS (buy on line, pick up in store) a couple of years ago, back when we had no idea that something called the Coronavirus would change the world as we know it.  We’ve been using BOPIS for our wedding registry since then, hosted online by Bridge. We find that… Read More

I’ve noticed that when some friends are feeling very stressed, they’ll post on Facebook that they need people to send cute pictures of kittens and puppies.  With the Coronavirus creating a high level of stress everywhere, this is an opportunity for your shop to be the equivalent of a basket of kittens to those going… Read More