It’s always a good idea to walk up to your store as if you were a consumer. What signage and displays invite you to come in? Once you enter, what do you see first? Does someone welcome you? Are there shopping baskets for your convenience? Is there an intriguing array of new merchandise to tempt… Read More

There’s an old joke in retailing that goes like this: “We’re losing money on every sale, but we make it up in volume.”  It would of course be bad to have such low markup on every item that you don’t break even – but not making a profit on a few things may actually be… Read More

“Consistent actions create consistent results.”  It may be obvious that your store needs to be open standardized hours, and that your branding needs to carry through from your advertising to your packaging to your signage. But have you thought about how consistent you are in your communications to your customers? According to Ashley Storck of… Read More

Has your shop tried offering grab bags? They can be a great way to get rid of odds and ends of merchandise, and to offer customers a fun experience. The AI feature in Constant Contact (not a bad place to look for promotional inspiration) describes mystery gifts as “a surprise party in a bag.” The… Read More

My friend Jan recently took a bad fall when she tripped over a bolt of fabric left on the floor of a national chain store. The entire place was a mess, she reported, with products in disarray and everything bedraggled and dirty. Who would blame her for deciding to shop online instead of exposing herself… Read More

For many independent retailers, their shop’s Facebook page is essential for keeping in touch with customers – and in fact, some stores use their Facebook page in lieu of a website. It is understandably distressing to get a message that your page is being removed by Facebook for violating community standards.  It usually happens like… Read More

A recent small study showed a dip in income this year for a majority of independent gift stores – and I’m sorry to say that ours falls into that category.  Our decline is modest, but we had really hoped that we’d see an increase in 2023 as we put the pandemic behind us.  Instead, COVID… Read More

Everyone agrees that social media is essential when it comes to promoting your store – but we believe there is still a place for direct mail in our advertising program.  We recently sent out the postcard above, designed for us by our print and mail company Econoprint. The back of the card has three coupons… Read More

We bought a Lustigt prize wheel for $29.95 at IKEA a few years ago, and once a month we set it up for our First Friday on Monroe Street event. Everyone who makes a purchase of $10 or more gets to take a spin, and we give away store gift cards as well as small… Read More

The CARES Act continues to help stores and restaurants recover from the pandemic through various programs, some in cooperation with the U.S. Small Business Administrations (SBA).  The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) here in Madison, Wisconsin used some of the CARES Act funding to create a series of enlightening short videos on the topics of… Read More