This time of year can be a bit overwhelming for shopkeepers – there’s too much to do, too few hands to share the work, too little (or too much) merchandise on the shelves.  Maybe you have bigger worries, such as meeting payroll and paying your rent. Perhaps your family is wishing that you had more time to enjoy the holidays with them.  I must admit that I have sometimes envied families whose Christmas Eve tradition didn’t include working at the store.

I encourage you to take some inspiration from the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life as we head into the home stretch. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine your storefront papered over with a yellowing “For Lease” sign in the window, and the shops on either side also vacant. Instead of a throng of holiday shoppers, the street is empty, with the wind blowing bits of trash down the sidewalk.

Is that what your community would look like without your business, and those around you?  As Clarence says to George, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

If your shop didn’t exist, you would not be able to provide:

  • meaningful employment to your staff
  • a market for the products you love
  • contributions local charities and arts groups
  • income for your vendors, reps and other employees
  • much-needed support for your local economy
  • an option for those who like to shop in person
  • a destination to draw visitors to your community
  • an outlet for the creativity of makers and artisans
  • an enjoyable shopping experience for customers

There are, of course, some tradeoffs in the life of a shopkeeper – especially at the holidays. But I take heart from the fact that our daughter Katrina wrote an essay in college about her favorite family tradition: working in our store on Christmas Eve. It turns out that she loves it as much as we do. 

Happy retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder

PS There won’t be a Specialty Shop Retailing blog next week due to the holidays