A Discussion on Maintaining a Successful Business in These Trying Times.
Bring together a group of retailers, vendors and sales representatives to discuss how the current economic climate is affecting their businesses and you get a very lively exchange. That’s what Gifts & Decorative Accessories and World Market Center Las Vegas did.
Following are some highlights.
Love What You Do and Sell
David Moses: “Independent retailers have a unique advantage over the big chains, big boxes; [they] are so much more able to focus on what they love … I was struck at the show in Atlanta by how many customers [when asked] had a strong holiday season. … One of the retailers said it was the best holiday season they’d had in 10 years. I was floored; I asked, ‘How did you do it?’ They were kind of the last man standing and stuck to their guns in terms of customer service and what they were passionate about and they are succeeding.”
Get Back to Basics
Several of the retailers emphasized the benefits of what Rhonda Strachan noted as “a return to basics. That old thing where you have people that you know and you buy those service and goods from somebody in your community who actually remembers your name.” These have long been the strengths of the smaller independent retailer.
“We’ve started really stressing in [all our marketing] about … buying local. The money going to the big box retailers is going out of state. … If we keep two or three people working, they will go to the local grocery store and to the local restaurant; we all begin to prosper off of that … and take care of our community,” added Edward Vanegas.
Embrace the Internet
“If you don’t embrace the Internet in today’s market with all your heart, you’re missing a lot of money,” advised Elizabeth Bighorse, but cautioned that a website should be done well or not at all. “Now is the time to do it and do it really, really well. Hire the best that you can. Get referrals, recommendations, do your homework.” And if you don’t know how to build a website, she noted, “There’s a lot of unemployed people who know these things.”
Even if you don’t use your website for e-commerce, having an Internet presence is an important marketing tool. “The Internet is actually the least expensive way to communicate with your market,” advised Ted Teele. “Get with the program if you don’t have a website because that’s how you’re going to get people to come into your store and make you more relevant” especially to the next generations moving up with the buying power.
Know Your Financials
But most important, the bottom line is the bottom line. Rick Contino stressed to everyone present the key point: “I think the biggest issue facing us is obviously we have to be very literate in our finance and know exactly where you are with your inventory.”
Elizabeth Bighorse supported his statement, “People need to be so in touch with their financials. … So many people are running their businesses blind. And the economy needs to be about figuring out where you’re making your money and doing it better.”
This article, edited by Caroline Kennedy, editor-in-chief, appeared in the March issue of Gifts & Decorative Accessories and is excerpted with permission. The full text is available at http://www.giftsanddec.com/article/CA6647292.html