Resources

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I have just started to blog on our website and have linked it to Facebook. Do I need to write something every day? If not, how often should I update the blog? I’m having trouble coming up with things to say. Any suggestions?

The Sell-More Plan

A customer walks into your shop and says, “I’m looking for a particular book/necklace/candle. Do you have it?”

You look at an order sheet—for an order you still haven’t placed—with that very item on it, then at your pile of bills. You think of your dwindling account balance and reply, “I don’t have it in stock at the moment, but I can get it for you.”

The Sell-More Plan

A customer walks into your shop and says, “I’m looking for a particular book/necklace/candle. Do you have it?”

You look at an order sheet—for an order you still haven’t placed—with that very item on it, then at your pile of bills. You think of your dwindling account balance and reply, “I don’t have it in stock at the moment, but I can get it for you.”

Dream Team

You have a successful retail store. You know your stuff, your customers love you, you run a tight ship. But when it’s time to stretch beyond your comfort zone, such as into highly technical matters of law, taxes, accounting, or other specialized fields, don’t go it alone. Some matters are best handled by outside experts—and if you find the right ones, they can become invaluable partners, helping you make sound decisions for your business.

Sweet Valentine

Even as February’s deep cold sets in, our attention turns to hearts, flowers, love, and romance. Ahh, Valentine’s Day. It’s a natural attraction for gift stores of all kinds. And, if you select unique, compelling products to feature in an appealing, eye-catching display, you can set your store apart from the rest.

Start by thinking creatively. You don’t have to buy a lot of themed merchandise—just look around your store and consider what you already have in the categories of Valentine’s-appropriate gifts: jewelry, books, candy, greeting cards, candles.

Weathering the Worst

Many of the thousands of businesses destroyed by the catastrophic effects of recent hurricanes, floods, winds, and other natural disasters will never reopen their doors. However, many others are already back in operation and on their way to a healthy recovery.

The difference? In most cases, say the experts, the fortunate ones are those who had a disaster preparation and recovery plan to guide them through that traumatic time.

Stocking for Success

Inventory management may seem like a dry subject, but for retailers, it can have a dramatic effect on profitability. A system that ensures you are carrying the right merchandise in the right quantity is an essential ingredient in a healthy bottom line. Too much inventory will tie up badly needed money while taking up valuable space on your shelves; too little inventory will eat away at your cash flow and disappoint customers you can’t afford to lose.

Bright Ideas

Providing customers with a highly attractive shopping environment is one of the key factors in supporting retail sales. And, at the most basic level, a store cannot begin to optimize profits without a proper lighting system. Not only will lighting enhance the presentation of your merchandise, it also affects the mood of shoppers in your store.

Good Business

Marketing campaigns and the budgets that, theoretically, go with them can cause serious angst. Small business owners are notorious for laughing maniacally when asked about their advertising budget. Whether because they’re operating on tattered shoestrings and fervent prayers and have no budget, or do have a budget but are terrified to spend it only to see no returns, proprietors of all kinds avoid making any decisions about marketing at all (which is still a decision made).

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I just opened two months ago, and customers are asking for psychic readings already! I thought I might wait a few months, but I now see this as a good source of revenue that would be welcome. Do I need insurance to cover psychics? Or do they need their own insurance? Should I have customers sign a waiver so no one is liable? What do you do at your store?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I’ve heard other retailers are renegotiating their leases with their landlords. Since our store lease is coming up for renewal in a few months, I’d like some tips on how I can get our rent reduced. Any ideas?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: What kind of education or expertise do you advise people to have before they open a retail store? It has been my life-long dream to own a book and gift store and to help inspire others on their spiritual path. Now that I’m at the point where I can do it (finally!), I wonder if I really have what it takes.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I just opened two months ago, and customers are asking for psychic readings already! I thought I might wait a few months, but I now see this as a good source of revenue that would be welcome. Do I need insurance to cover psychics? Or do they need their own insurance? Should I have customers sign a waiver so no one is liable? What do you do at your store?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I was watching a business analyst on TV the other day talk about how to price a small business for sale. He said there are lots of “intangibles” that can affect the sales price but did not elaborate. Do you know what he was talking about?

Stocking for Success

Inventory management may seem like a dry subject, but for retailers, it can have a dramatic effect on profitability. A system that ensures you are carrying the right merchandise in the right quantity is an essential ingredient in a healthy bottom line. Too much inventory will tie up badly needed money while taking up valuable space on your shelves; too little inventory will eat away at your cash flow and disappoint customers you can’t afford to lose.

Bright Ideas

Providing customers with a highly attractive shopping environment is one of the key factors in supporting retail sales. And, at the most basic level, a store cannot begin to optimize profits without a proper lighting system. Not only will lighting enhance the presentation of your merchandise, it also affects the mood of shoppers in your store.

How to Generate Buzz for Your Business With Press Releases

When a tight marketing budget has you racking your brain for cheap (or, better yet, free!) ways to bring new customers into your store, consider this: Good publicity is an amazing way to create interest and excitement around your store. And it requires little or no money if you drum up the attention yourself—but it isn’t free. It will cost you time, effort, and a little know-how. However, the payoff will be a stronger presence in the community and more customers through your door. Try some of the following tips to make publicity a part of your marketing plan.

Stocking for Success

Inventory management may seem like a dry subject, but for retailers, it can have a dramatic effect on profitability. A system that ensures you are carrying the right merchandise in the right quantity is an essential ingredient in a healthy bottom line. Too much inventory will tie up badly needed money while taking up valuable space on your shelves; too little inventory will eat away at your cash flow and disappoint customers you can’t afford to lose.

Good Business

Marketing campaigns and the budgets that, theoretically, go with them can cause serious angst. Small business owners are notorious for laughing maniacally when asked about their advertising budget. Whether because they’re operating on tattered shoestrings and fervent prayers and have no budget, or do have a budget but are terrified to spend it only to see no returns, proprietors of all kinds avoid making any decisions about marketing at all (which is still a decision made).

How to Generate Buzz for Your Business With Press Releases

When a tight marketing budget has you racking your brain for cheap (or, better yet, free!) ways to bring new customers into your store, consider this: Good publicity is an amazing way to create interest and excitement around your store. And it requires little or no money if you drum up the attention yourself—but it isn’t free. It will cost you time, effort, and a little know-how. However, the payoff will be a stronger presence in the community and more customers through your door. Try some of the following tips to make publicity a part of your marketing plan.

Stocking for Success

Inventory management may seem like a dry subject, but for retailers, it can have a dramatic effect on profitability. A system that ensures you are carrying the right merchandise in the right quantity is an essential ingredient in a healthy bottom line. Too much inventory will tie up badly needed money while taking up valuable space on your shelves; too little inventory will eat away at your cash flow and disappoint customers you can’t afford to lose.

Bright Ideas

Providing customers with a highly attractive shopping environment is one of the key factors in supporting retail sales. And, at the most basic level, a store cannot begin to optimize profits without a proper lighting system. Not only will lighting enhance the presentation of your merchandise, it also affects the mood of shoppers in your store.

Everlasting Renaissance

Everlasting Renaissance

rofile:
Store name: New Renaissance Bookshop
Location: 1338 NW 23rd Ave., Portland, OR 97210; 503/224-4929
Owners: Jamey and Darlene Potter
Date opened: 1987
Website: www.newrenbooks.com
Hours: Monday through Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Number of employees: 13 full time, 6 part time
Square footage: 4,400 sq. ft. with 1,400 sq. ft. of office space
Annual gross: $1.8 million

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: A customer tripped in our store and banged her knee. We helped her and put ice on it right away. There did not appear to be any merchandise in the way or a rug or anything, so no one is sure why she tripped. Now she is talking about suing us for the cost of her doctor visit, X-ray, and so on. I don’t think we did anything wrong. Should I have somehow seen this coming?

Everlasting Renaissance

Everlasting Renaissance

rofile:
Store name: New Renaissance Bookshop
Location: 1338 NW 23rd Ave., Portland, OR 97210; 503/224-4929
Owners: Jamey and Darlene Potter
Date opened: 1987
Website: www.newrenbooks.com
Hours: Monday through Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Number of employees: 13 full time, 6 part time
Square footage: 4,400 sq. ft. with 1,400 sq. ft. of office space
Annual gross: $1.8 million

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I’m hoping to open a new store this summer and have been looking at available real estate. I have found spaces for lease in locations I like that are 1,200 to 2,400 square feet. Can you tell me how much floor (sales) space and how much back-room space I should plan for?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: In a recent Shop Talk, you answered a question about a requirement in the new health care law that gave store owners the obligation of creating 1099s for vendors and reporting this information to the IRS at year end. I have read that the bill was overturned, so now I’m a bit confused. Do we have to do this or not?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: In a recent Shop Talk, you answered a question about a requirement in the new health care law that gave store owners the obligation of creating 1099s for vendors and reporting this information to the IRS at year end. I have read that the bill was overturned, so now I’m a bit confused. Do we have to do this or not?

The Connection Workshop

Baby, it’s crunch time. Holiday 2011 is here, and word on the street is, you’re going to be considerably busier than last year.

Now’s the time to approach the fourth quarter as a fresh start, a clean slate—with a whole new focus on building and retaining customer loyalty.

It may be too late to make hefty changes in your approach: Your merchandise is stocked, events scheduled. But you still have time to shift the one thing that will bring you maximum results this season. That singular thing? Authentic connection.

Survivor's Guide to the Economy

Survivor's Guide to the Economy

What changes have you made in your store to keep your business healthy in the slow economy? This is the question I asked recently as I spoke with New Age retailers around the country. Many told me they had developed important and effective strategies for store survival, including both fundamental changes in the way they do business and smaller adjustments in procedures or focus. The best part? You can benefit from their success by applying these ideas to your business, helping you not only survive during the slow times, but thrive as the economy once again picks up steam.

5 Rules for Doing Customer Service Right

In every industry, but especially retail, quality customer service is a primary source of competitive advantage. Yet, mediocre customer service is rampant. Nevertheless, it’s up to the employer to set and effectively communicate the ground rules for how employees should interact with consumers. If you want to boost sales and drive repeat business, retail expert and author Nancy Friedman (www.telephonedoctor.com) can help you raise the bar with these Five Cardinal Rules of Retail Customer Service.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I’m hoping to open a new store this summer and have been looking at available real estate. I have found spaces for lease in locations I like that are 1,200 to 2,400 square feet. Can you tell me how much floor (sales) space and how much back-room space I should plan for?

How to Sell Jewelry Your Customers Can Afford

The cost of silver is increasing dramatically, and it’s causing some real problems for retail stores and their customers. Two years ago the price of raw silver was $12 an ounce. Six months ago it was $24, and in early June, the price was over $36—with no end in sight. Some experts predict it will continue to climb to record levels through the end of the year. Your customers want jewelry, and now is the time to find alternative ways to provide them with products they can afford.

Good Business

A good benefits package is like a tightrope act. On one side, you want to offer a program that keeps your best employees from jumping ship. On the other, you want to trim an expense category that can account for a third of payroll costs as reckoned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Smaller retailers have a particularly hard time balancing benefits with costs. What’s the stolution? Take a new look at the array of low-cost or no-cost benefits that can keep your workers happy without busting your budget.

The Connection Workshop

Baby, it’s crunch time. Holiday 2011 is here, and word on the street is, you’re going to be considerably busier than last year.

Now’s the time to approach the fourth quarter as a fresh start, a clean slate—with a whole new focus on building and retaining customer loyalty.

It may be too late to make hefty changes in your approach: Your merchandise is stocked, events scheduled. But you still have time to shift the one thing that will bring you maximum results this season. That singular thing? Authentic connection.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: What do you think about plastic gift cards? Are they worth the investment?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: Sales are not rebounding as quickly as I had hoped (are we sure this recession is over?) and I have to do something to survive. Where should I start? Do you have any suggestions?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: How can I interest customers in buying books that are valuable (in my opinion) but tend to just sit on the shelf?

Full-Spectrum Sales

Did you know that consumers make subconscious judgments about products within 90 seconds of first seeing them? As a retailer, this means you have a very small window to attract attention to your products. And 85% of consumers use color as a primary reason for making purchases, which makes color one of the best tools you can use to increase your sales.

Survivor's Guide to the Economy

Survivor's Guide to the Economy

What changes have you made in your store to keep your business healthy in the slow economy? This is the question I asked recently as I spoke with New Age retailers around the country. Many told me they had developed important and effective strategies for store survival, including both fundamental changes in the way they do business and smaller adjustments in procedures or focus. The best part? You can benefit from their success by applying these ideas to your business, helping you not only survive during the slow times, but thrive as the economy once again picks up steam.

Shifting to a Better World

Gregg Braden’s speaking voice could calm the roiling seas, its deep timbre and melodious tones soothing to the ear. And a good thing, too, considering he’s talking about December 21, 2012, which many people fear will be the date of a worldwide apocalypse.

Even rather alarming statements such as, “The Earth doesn’t need healing—it will be here … but will we be here?” go down smoothly.

How to Sell Jewelry Your Customers Can Afford

The cost of silver is increasing dramatically, and it’s causing some real problems for retail stores and their customers. Two years ago the price of raw silver was $12 an ounce. Six months ago it was $24, and in early June, the price was over $36—with no end in sight. Some experts predict it will continue to climb to record levels through the end of the year. Your customers want jewelry, and now is the time to find alternative ways to provide them with products they can afford.

The Connection Workshop

Baby, it’s crunch time. Holiday 2011 is here, and word on the street is, you’re going to be considerably busier than last year.

Now’s the time to approach the fourth quarter as a fresh start, a clean slate—with a whole new focus on building and retaining customer loyalty.

It may be too late to make hefty changes in your approach: Your merchandise is stocked, events scheduled. But you still have time to shift the one thing that will bring you maximum results this season. That singular thing? Authentic connection.

Fairwashing

Fairwashing

The terms “sustainable” and “fair trade” have become buzzwords at trade shows and in catalogs. From jewelry and apparel to home décor, many manufacturers and importers now offer retailers a dizzying array of choices, all presented as being true to the spirit of this emerging, socially conscious movement. Some hope to entice you with promises of environmentally responsible manufacturing and worker-friendly practices—but when you scratch the surface, a different picture emerges. After all, who exactly would come out and tell you their products are made using child labor or toxic ingredients?

Big Sales in Small Spaces

Big Sales in Small Spaces

Retailers with small stores know how difficult it can be to assign space to best-selling merchandise and new products that come to market each year. It’s a delicate balance, the art of showcasing a small shop as both a reliable resource for favorite items and an exciting destination filled with creative new products. Making the task even more complex is the need to have a clear view of your space so as not to create blind spots that serve as havens for shoplifters.

Fairwashing

Fairwashing

The terms “sustainable” and “fair trade” have become buzzwords at trade shows and in catalogs. From jewelry and apparel to home décor, many manufacturers and importers now offer retailers a dizzying array of choices, all presented as being true to the spirit of this emerging, socially conscious movement. Some hope to entice you with promises of environmentally responsible manufacturing and worker-friendly practices—but when you scratch the surface, a different picture emerges. After all, who exactly would come out and tell you their products are made using child labor or toxic ingredients?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: Sales are not rebounding as quickly as I had hoped (are we sure this recession is over?) and I have to do something to survive. Where should I start? Do you have any suggestions?

Good Business

A good benefits package is like a tightrope act. On one side, you want to offer a program that keeps your best employees from jumping ship. On the other, you want to trim an expense category that can account for a third of payroll costs as reckoned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Smaller retailers have a particularly hard time balancing benefits with costs. What’s the stolution? Take a new look at the array of low-cost or no-cost benefits that can keep your workers happy without busting your budget.

Good Business

A good benefits package is like a tightrope act. On one side, you want to offer a program that keeps your best employees from jumping ship. On the other, you want to trim an expense category that can account for a third of payroll costs as reckoned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Smaller retailers have a particularly hard time balancing benefits with costs. What’s the stolution? Take a new look at the array of low-cost or no-cost benefits that can keep your workers happy without busting your budget.

Everlasting Renaissance

Everlasting Renaissance

rofile:
Store name: New Renaissance Bookshop
Location: 1338 NW 23rd Ave., Portland, OR 97210; 503/224-4929
Owners: Jamey and Darlene Potter
Date opened: 1987
Website: www.newrenbooks.com
Hours: Monday through Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Number of employees: 13 full time, 6 part time
Square footage: 4,400 sq. ft. with 1,400 sq. ft. of office space
Annual gross: $1.8 million

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