I just came across my store to-do list from last March, and was not surprised to find that nothing that seemed urgent then seems important now. Who would have thought that about a year later, one of the most pressing issues for our shops would be flu vaccines? The roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine is… Read More


It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day details of running a store – checking to see whether the staff got to work on time, whether the day’s shipments arrived complete, whether the roof is leaking. (If your store isn’t located in a place where ice dams are a problem, you can probably cross that… Read More


The first commercial Valentine cards in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s – and I suspect that in the long history of the holiday this will go down as being a particularly challenging one for retailers.  When we packed away what was left of the Valentine’s Day inventory on February 15, 2020 we… Read More


I’m probably not the only one who is a bit disappointed that so far 2021 is a lot like 2020.  Aside from the excitement of the coming vaccine, little has changed in terms of the way COVID-19 is impacting our businesses – and our lives.  The handy data tracker provided by the Centers for Disease… Read More


This year started off like so many others, with inventory day followed by a few slow winter months.  Sure, Amazon was continuing to eat into our market share – but we had a loyal following and the buy local movement here in Madison, Wisconsin continues to be strong.  And then came COVID-19, and everything in… Read More


Penzeys Spices, an innovative, socially active company headquartered here in Wisconsin, just came up with an interesting suggestion for the 2020 holidays.  They’re referring to it as #Xtramas.  CEO Bill Penzey is asking his 700,000 Facebook followers “Can we all unite this year in support of making the time of Christmas gifts a season of… Read More


With the number of COVID cases in the US nearing the 15 million mark, it may be just a matter of time before someone on your staff tests positive. Small businesses have different policies about what to do when this happens. Some notify all staff members, others close for several days, or at least share… Read More


What do McDonald’s Value Meals and cars with both air conditioning and a sunroof have in common?  They’re both examples of bundling – putting together two or more things as a package deal at a promotional price. If you are featuring products this holiday season on your website for curbside pickup, or on social media… Read More


In recent holiday seasons, media reports have proclaimed that consumers were favoring experiences over material items when purchasing gifts. Travel, spa services, entertainment tickets, restaurant gift certificates – all luxuries that are largely not possible due to the pandemic. A recent Bloomberg News story carried the headline “Retailers revel as goods rebound over experiences” –  a ray… Read More


I imagine I’m not alone in feeling rather discouraged as our shop heads into the holiday season this year.  We have a beautifully displayed selection of merchandise, a well-trained and dedicated staff, and a loyal customer following built up over 45 years of retailing.  But the pandemic means that we can’t invite shoppers into our… Read More