The world of improv comedy is not usually where retailers look for inspiration – but we all know  that nothing is as usual this year.  I recently came across the concept of “Yes, and” as it relates to theater, and am hoping to adopt it when negative thinking about the current situation creeps in.

According to, “Yes, and” is a pillar of improvisation. It’s the acceptance principle — when someone in a scene states something, accept it as truth. The “and” part of this principle means to build on that reality that has been set.”

In improv, the second actor has no choice but to agree with whatever the first actor has said.  “But” and “no” are not allowed.  And yet in our dealings with the new reality of our business world, it’s easy to respond negatively. I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking “No, that’s not how we’ve always done things.” “No, we can’t afford to try that.” “No, I don’t want everything to be different than it was a year ago.”  

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that what we want doesn’t matter much, because we are not really in control of the situation. I would love to wake up tomorrow to find that COVID-19 was just a dream, or that overnight the whole world got vaccinated.  But (if I may allow myself to use the word) I realize that’s not going to happen.

So instead, we need to accept the fact that player one has said “There is a global pandemic going on, and you need to do everything you can to keep your employees and customers safe.”  As player two, our response is “Yes, and here are the measures we can take to do that.”

Player one has added, “Amazon is going to keep growing their online sales while brick and mortar retailers have to limit customer access to their stores.” And as hard as it is, we need to answer “Yes, and we can increase our web offerings so that we can also reach customers online.”

Someday player one will say “Now that it’s safer to go out, people are hoping to enjoy shopping in person again.”  And we will answer “Yes, and we are ready to welcome them back.”

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder