Saturday, December 11, 2004

Entrepreneur's friend

Your local Small Business Development Center offers free business counseling. The SBDC staff can provide you with a valuable sounding-board and be a conduit to other resources. Here's the story of one woman's experience in Virginia. Call your SBDC and ask them to come for a chat in your retail store.

Surviving Wal-Mart

Dr. Ken Stone shares some simple advice on how retailers can survive after Wal-Mart comes to town. Don't try to compete on price, and sell products that the super store doesn't carry.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Dreaming of a green Christmas

Identifying your business with a cause is a good way to gain the loyalty and support of customers. (What slogan is more likely to motivate customers: "Desperately trying to make a profit since 1990" or "5% of our profits go to the American Red Cross"?) One currently popular cause is environmental sustainability ... for example, ultra-trendy American Apparel has an organic cotton line. The Christian Science Monitor has a long article about "green" retailers at Christmas. Sales at are up 25% over last year.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Online auctions move stale inventory

An owner of a small game and hobby store in Louisville, KY, shares his tips for the best ways to move your old inventory on eBay. It's a good way to increase your retail store's inventory turns, free up cash to purchase new inventory, and reach a national market. But there's more to it than just slapping up a listing.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Pop-up stores come and go

"Pop-up" or "guerilla" stores set up shop in vacant storefronts, sell trendy exclusive products, and then disappear after a short time. The temporary locations have a "get it while it lasts" appeal. The concept pioneered by Vacant has picked up steam, with big brands like Levis, Adidas, and Sony opening temporary stores in big cities to entice trendsetters to buy limited-edition products. A Brazilian cosmetics firm uses vans as traveling stores that move between events and other gathering spots. How can a small retailer use this concept? Test an expansion location in another town. Take advantage of short-term or seasonal sales at tourist destinations. Open a second, temporary location for the Christmas season. The trick seems to be stocking inventory "cool" enough to generate word-of-mouth promotion.

Christmas windows 2004

HGTV is running a special about Christmas windows in retail stores. Creative window displays can be a real attraction for your business (worthy of a television special!) Get some tips from the pros. The special is airing from December 6 to the 25th. Check here for days and times.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Size doesn't matter in e-commerce

A recent survey says that most online shoppers are just as willing to buy from a small online retailer as from a large one. Only 15% of respondents said they preferred to shop with large retailers. Security, privacy, prices, ease of use and availability of desired products do matter to almost all the respondents. Lessons? On the Internet or in a bricks-and-mortar store, execution matters more than size. Pay attention to the little things, and do what you do well.