Business 101

Good Business

No matter what the state of the economy, the basics of making a profit in retail remain the same: You can increase sales, decrease expenses, increase your mark-up on products, or a combination of the three. And if you can make a profit in tough times, when this recession recedes, you will have better cash flow, happier employees, and a viable and sellable business.

Grass Roots

When I first opened my shop in 1994, I was determined to run my business according to four guiding principles: I would only sell products that were earth-sensitive, had a positive message of some kind, were artsy and beautiful, and, finally, were American-made. Even if a potential inventory item had the three other aspects I was looking for, I wouldn’t even consider it if it wasn’t made in the U.S.

Grass Roots

The other night, I was doing one of my shop-closing rituals—gathering the trash from the day, taking it outside to put in the bin, and dumping the recyclables into the recycling bin next to it. I was about to toss the trash and, as I do (admittedly) a bit obsessively, I rummaged through it to make sure nothing was inadvertently thrown out that was supposed to be recycled. To my surprise, someone had neatly deposited their empty plastic to-go salad container, still in its plastic bag.

The Golden Age

The Golden Age

When Robert Spector was working in his family’s butcher shop while growing up in Perth Amboy, N.J., he wasn’t interested in the sociological implications of the rise and fall of independently owned “mom and pop” stores like the one he toiled in after school and on weekends with his father, mother, uncle, and other family members. He just wanted to get out from behind the counter. However, once he became a professional author and speaker on customer service, retail, and the economy, his views changed.

Grass Roots

Is there a “green bubble” in retail, and is it about to burst? If you’re a retailer who has invested time, money, marketing efforts, and emotional commitment into going green, that possibility might just keep you awake at night. The idea that the strides we’ve made in eco-consciousness over the past decade are simply a consumer fad that will fade as quickly as the Rubik’s cube is enough to give us all a collective chill.

Local Motion

Local Motion

Even in the best of times, owning a small, independent business can be a challenge. At times exhilarating, occasionally frustrating, and often a labor of love, it’s a daily balancing act requiring creativity, energy, diplomacy, and good judgment. Serious competition from big box stores and online retailers requires innovative marketing strategies and careful inventory selections to differentiate our stores from what some customers see as more convenient options. And that’s when the economy is good.

5 Tips When Bills Become Overwhelming

Does this sound familiar? You get into a protracted cash flow crunch, and the phone starts flying off the hook with incoming collection calls. You’re too busy trying to generate revenue to deal with angry collectors—and when you do talk to them, their threats and accusations leave you shaken.

When times are good, you don’t think about these possibilities, which is why you’re so unprepared when you get into a downturn. If I have to list the biggest mistakes I’ve seen good business people make when they get into financial trouble, they would be the following:

Conscious Capitalism

Conscious Capitalism

Patricia Aburdene is a business journalist and trend forecaster whose book Megatrends, with co-author John Naisbitt, became a bestseller in the United States, Germany, and Japan. Published in 1982, Megatrends famously predicted the rise of the “Information Economy” and pointed the way to the high tech era that has revolutionized life as we know it. Her most recent book, Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism (Hampton Roads 2005), predicts an economy based on ethics, values, and spiritual awareness.

Grass Roots

Is it just me or have you noticed the rainbow of bright green choices suddenly available to help retail shops be more sustainable? In the last few years, we’ve moved from “Where can I find earth-friendly options?” to “How do I know which fantastic green choice to make?” Whether it’s supplies, merchandise, or even displays, the green spectrum is expanding exponentially.

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