Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

by : 
Kim Perkins
August 1, 2013

Question: One of our most loyal customers, who loved our merchandise and especially loved buying books regularly, just passed away and left $5,000 in her will to our store. I was thrilled and a bit surprised, but now I feel overwhelmed because I have no idea what to do with the money. I would like to honor her in some way but don’t know how. Do you have any ideas?

Answer: You didn’t mention if the bequest you received had any conditions attached, so I’m assuming it did not and that you can simply consider it a very sizable “thank you” gift to be used for whatever purpose or need the store might have. Doing something to honor the memory of your customer is a wonderful thought and can be a good public relations tool as well.

Since she loved books so much, perhaps you could have a special reading day once or twice a year, named for her, during which all books are sold at a deep discount. That way more people could enjoy reading, and it would also help you increase awareness of the books you carry. Maybe feature your new books or bestsellers or have a drawing in which customers pick their discount from a bowl at the counter, with a few “free book” coupons thrown in. You also could possibly get some free press—it would make a good human interest story—for this new and unusual approach.

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Fla. Send your retail questions to