Resources

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

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?

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: 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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

What's Your Story?

What's Your Story?

“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I—I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.” —Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Good Business

Good Business

You can see them coming from across the street with their clipboards and brochures—another merchant processor salesperson has come to call, promising you better rates and lower fees. Of course, they want three to five years of commitment from you, often for a pittance of savings. But to know that, you have to wade through the fine print, tiers of ratings, and lists of fees, all helpfully spelled out in six-point type on a five-page contract.

Good Business

Good Business

You can see them coming from across the street with their clipboards and brochures—another merchant processor salesperson has come to call, promising you better rates and lower fees. Of course, they want three to five years of commitment from you, often for a pittance of savings. But to know that, you have to wade through the fine print, tiers of ratings, and lists of fees, all helpfully spelled out in six-point type on a five-page contract.

No Limits

You are riding a wave of genuinely positive feelings, and then out of the blue, it hits you: The other shoe is about to drop. It takes root as a nagging worry, and then, sure enough, you accidentally lock yourself in the storeroom, your mysterious allergy flares up, or you pick a fight with your significant other, dog, neighbor, or fill-in-the-blank. When things are a little too good, trouble is … wait for it … not far behind. Or so it seems. What exactly is going on here?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: How long should we hold on to merchandise that isn’t selling before we mark it down? My husband never wants to mark anything down, but I’m concerned about inventory that just sits. What do you suggest?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: How long should we hold on to merchandise that isn’t selling before we mark it down? My husband never wants to mark anything down, but I’m concerned about inventory that just sits. What do you suggest?

Revenue Rescue

Profit leaks lurk deep inside almost every retail business, silently weighing down your prosperity. Nowhere is this more true than in specialty retail operations. Some are harder to detect than others; some far more damaging than others. Together, they can form a major obstacle on the road to optimum profits.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I am opening a metaphysical store in Florida next week. Could you help me with a list of product wholesalers, and could you tell me how I can obtain a list of people interested in metaphysics? This venture happened all of a sudden, so any information will be appreciated.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: How long should we hold on to merchandise that isn’t selling before we mark it down? My husband never wants to mark anything down, but I’m concerned about inventory that just sits. What do you suggest?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: Do you offer services such as massage and reiki in your store, and do you require those practitioners to have liability insurance?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I have a small shop and a limited but meaningful selection of new books. I’ve been contemplating selling used books as well, keeping with the same spiritual and metaphysical themes we have now. Are there any guidelines for buying and selling used books? My thought was to buy used books for $1 or $2, sell them for $4 or $5, and donate $1 per book to local environmental efforts.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I read your answer in a recent issue about setting a minimum purchase for customers who use credit cards. I checked with my merchant services vendor and found out the following: You can set a limit on credit cards but not on debit cards. Visa may indeed allow setting a limit, but what’s more important is whether or not your merchant bank agrees to the policy.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I’m headed to the gem show in Tucson to buy crystals for my new shop. I am allotting 90 square feet (about one tenth of my overall floor space) to crystals. My total inventory budget is $55,000. Can you tell me how much I should spend on stones?

No Limits

You are riding a wave of genuinely positive feelings, and then out of the blue, it hits you: The other shoe is about to drop. It takes root as a nagging worry, and then, sure enough, you accidentally lock yourself in the storeroom, your mysterious allergy flares up, or you pick a fight with your significant other, dog, neighbor, or fill-in-the-blank. When things are a little too good, trouble is … wait for it … not far behind. Or so it seems. What exactly is going on here?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I have a small shop and a limited but meaningful selection of new books. I’ve been contemplating selling used books as well, keeping with the same spiritual and metaphysical themes we have now. Are there any guidelines for buying and selling used books? My thought was to buy used books for $1 or $2, sell them for $4 or $5, and donate $1 per book to local environmental efforts.

Build a Business Support System

You can increase your business in new and surprising ways by reaching outside your store and into the community that lives, works, and shops around you. Following are five ways to get involved and make connections in your local community.

Trade Show Tax Tips

Trade shows are great for finding new products and making profitable contacts. But you know the downside: With the rising cost of travel, going to a show can get mighty expensive. Plane fares, car rentals, hotel bills, and meals—they add up to big money.

What to do? You can reduce a trade show’s impact on your bottom line by deducting all appropriate travel costs as business expenses on your income taxes.

Good Business

Every owner wants a store where employees are cooperative and feel appreciated, where their workers thrive and customers love the resulting positive atmosphere. High staff morale is important—so important it will carry you through the difficult times that can overwhelm the joy of running your own business.

Whether yours has one or a handful of employees, every store has similar challenges in building and maintaining a great team. It falls to the owner to create an environment where everyone is encouraged to do his or her best.

Face(book) Time

MySpace is passé; Twitter is limited and quickly becoming dominated by self-promoting celebrities. So, the verdict is in: Facebook, the greatest phenomenon of 21st century social networking, is the place to be.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: Do you offer services such as massage and reiki in your store, and do you require those practitioners to have liability insurance?

No Limits

You are riding a wave of genuinely positive feelings, and then out of the blue, it hits you: The other shoe is about to drop. It takes root as a nagging worry, and then, sure enough, you accidentally lock yourself in the storeroom, your mysterious allergy flares up, or you pick a fight with your significant other, dog, neighbor, or fill-in-the-blank. When things are a little too good, trouble is … wait for it … not far behind. Or so it seems. What exactly is going on here?

Build a Business Support System

You can increase your business in new and surprising ways by reaching outside your store and into the community that lives, works, and shops around you. Following are five ways to get involved and make connections in your local community.

Celebrating Change

When New Age Retailer rolled off the presses for the first time in 1987, the world was a very different place. Apple and Adobe had just hooked up to create a love child: desktop publishing. The long reign of typewriters and carbon paper was over, done in by the new desktop computer. Cell phones, so indispensable today, were nowhere to be seen. All telephones were firmly tethered to the walls of homes and businesses, and that was where we used them. Conversations carried on while walking down the street needed two things: you and at least one other person close enough to touch.

Dreaming Big

Some people might not have thought a small New Age store could survive in a relatively conservative town of fewer than 10,000 people, much less through the past three years of a rocky economy. But don’t tell that to Anne DeClue. Six years ago, she was inspired to open a shop in her small town after going through a spiritual transformation of her own. She just had “a feeling,” she says, and acted on it.

Face(book) Time

MySpace is passé; Twitter is limited and quickly becoming dominated by self-promoting celebrities. So, the verdict is in: Facebook, the greatest phenomenon of 21st century social networking, is the place to be.

Good Business

Every owner wants a store where employees are cooperative and feel appreciated, where their workers thrive and customers love the resulting positive atmosphere. High staff morale is important—so important it will carry you through the difficult times that can overwhelm the joy of running your own business.

Whether yours has one or a handful of employees, every store has similar challenges in building and maintaining a great team. It falls to the owner to create an environment where everyone is encouraged to do his or her best.

Good as New

If you sell books in your store, you already know how significantly the market has shifted in the last 10 years. Customers who might have once sought out your store for the latest Hay House or Tarcher/Penguin release can now, with a few clicks, buy it online and have it shipped to their home (or downloaded to their e-reader), often for less than the cover price. This change in consumer behavior, as well as the price competition among major retailers, has even impacted large chains—Borders entered bankruptcy earlier this year.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I’m getting ready to open my store in September with two employees and myself working it. In a small store, is it necessary to have policies about handling cash? Am I being paranoid to think I might get ripped off?

Face(book) Time

MySpace is passé; Twitter is limited and quickly becoming dominated by self-promoting celebrities. So, the verdict is in: Facebook, the greatest phenomenon of 21st century social networking, is the place to be.

No Limits

You are riding a wave of genuinely positive feelings, and then out of the blue, it hits you: The other shoe is about to drop. It takes root as a nagging worry, and then, sure enough, you accidentally lock yourself in the storeroom, your mysterious allergy flares up, or you pick a fight with your significant other, dog, neighbor, or fill-in-the-blank. When things are a little too good, trouble is … wait for it … not far behind. Or so it seems. What exactly is going on here?

Good as New

If you sell books in your store, you already know how significantly the market has shifted in the last 10 years. Customers who might have once sought out your store for the latest Hay House or Tarcher/Penguin release can now, with a few clicks, buy it online and have it shipped to their home (or downloaded to their e-reader), often for less than the cover price. This change in consumer behavior, as well as the price competition among major retailers, has even impacted large chains—Borders entered bankruptcy earlier this year.

Revenue Rescue

Profit leaks lurk deep inside almost every retail business, silently weighing down your prosperity. Nowhere is this more true than in specialty retail operations. Some are harder to detect than others; some far more damaging than others. Together, they can form a major obstacle on the road to optimum profits.

Good Business

Every owner wants a store where employees are cooperative and feel appreciated, where their workers thrive and customers love the resulting positive atmosphere. High staff morale is important—so important it will carry you through the difficult times that can overwhelm the joy of running your own business.

Whether yours has one or a handful of employees, every store has similar challenges in building and maintaining a great team. It falls to the owner to create an environment where everyone is encouraged to do his or her best.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I’m getting ready to open my store in September with two employees and myself working it. In a small store, is it necessary to have policies about handling cash? Am I being paranoid to think I might get ripped off?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: How do you handle employee discounts? I only have two part-time employees, but one thinks she should be able to order anything at cost. Is this the norm for retail stores?

8 Paths to Selling Success

8 Paths to Selling Success

Adding hot new products to your inventory is always exciting, but when you’re an independent retailer with a tight budget and tight quarters, how do you merchandise, introduce, and promote these unknown brands effectively? To help you debut what’s new in your store, industry insiders—from manufacturers and merchants to a feng shui expert and a marketing whiz—share ideas and recommendations for getting your creative merchandising juices flowing.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I have been asked to be a vendor at an offsite event. There will not be a phone line available to plug in a credit card machine. Is there an easy way for me to accept credit cards and print customer receipts?

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: I have been asked to be a vendor at an offsite event. There will not be a phone line available to plug in a credit card machine. Is there an easy way for me to accept credit cards and print customer receipts?

Greenovation

Greenovation

If you’re like most people, the urge to clean out, refresh, and renew your surroundings strikes predictably in the spring. Call it spring-cleaning fever or just time to make some changes, but remodeling your shop can greatly benefit both your business and the earth when you choose to do it in a green way. Whether it’s major reconstruction, a display face-lift, or just a fresh coat of paint, it’s not as difficult (or expensive) as you may think to make much-needed renovations while also creating a shiny new eco-footprint for your store.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: We recently received many applications for a sales position at our store. I chose the three best-looking applicants (on paper) and invited them in for an interview. The first applicant was one I was really excited about meeting and hoped she would be a great asset. But when she arrived, I was put off by her appearance.

Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

Question: How do you handle employee discounts? I only have two part-time employees, but one thinks she should be able to order anything at cost. Is this the norm for retail stores?

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