“Advertising moves people toward goods; merchandising moves goods toward people” is a great quote from businessman Morris Hite. As independent retailers, we know the importance of offering an inspiring selection of merchandise displayed in an enticing manner. But deciding about the most effective way to spend advertising money can be more puzzling. There was a… Read More


What role does your shop play in your community? Supporting non-profits in your area is an opportunity to build ties and to enhance your store’s reputation. It’s also great to be in a position to give back to those who support your business – and getting involved locally helps set your independent store apart from… Read More


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