Saturday, January 15, 2005

Free small business marketing booklet

Duct Tape Marketing offers a free booklet at their website. Called How to Create the Ultimate Small Business Marketing System in 7 Simple Steps, it sounds like a cheesy hype piece ... but I found it to be quite interesting and useful. The 7 steps are real action items that begin with "narrow your market focus" and end with "get famous". I won't spoil the rest for you.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Retail business success: Poisoned Pen

Book retailing is competitive ... the big-box bookstore chains and are running many independent retailers out of business. The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona succeeds by specializing in hard to find Canadian and British crime fiction. 70% of sales are from mail order. Barbara Peters is branching out into a new location in Phoenix, but it won't be as specialized. Let's hope the movement away from a niche doesn't hurt this successful retail store. The Poisoned Pen website.

Find a niche! Selling imported products that aren't generally available elsewhere is a good idea. Expanding your retail marketing through mail order and the Internet is an even better idea.

Retail success story: Urban Outfitters

Read the story of how one little store at a university grew into the lucrative empire of Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People stores around North America and Europe. After graduating from college and deciding to start a retail store, Richard Hayne and Judy Wicks had only a combined $3,000. The couple couldn't afford both an apartment and a storefront and ended up living in the back of their store for about a year, decorating the store by painting wooden crates they took from Chinatown trash bins.

You can reach your goals, whether they're big or small. It just may take some time and sacrifice.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

E-Commerce: sell to women

There are more women online than men, and they're also driving online retail sales.
Jewelry was the single biggest growth category, with a 113% increase in spending over last year. Women shoppers also helped make apparel the No. 1 category overall, with 16% growth and $3.8 billion in sales, according to the eSpending Report, released Jan. 3 by Goldman Sachs & Co., Harris Interactive, and Nielsen/NetRatings. Shoppers spent $1.4 billion more on clothes this year than on consumer electronics.
Is your online store merchandising to attract women?

Retail management: minimum wage changes

The minimum wage is increasing in several states. If you want good help, you should be willing to pay for it. Your staff is your contact with the public ... don't save a penny and lose a buck.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Retail marketing: clicks to bricks

The Petruzzi brothers keep finding new ways to sell batteries. They started on the Internet and now are moving close to home with a store in a shopping mall. In 1999, the brothers launched It receives about 250,000 visitors a month. A month ago, they opened their first retail shop, which offers an array of batteries and portable power supplies, including hard-to-find sizes not available from pharmacies and discounters.

The absolutely largest selection is always a good position to hold.

Kiosks: retail store incubators

Kiosks let retail entrepreneurs test ideas with a small investment. Temporary kiosks and carts have become an important segment of the retail industry, especially during the holiday season. With annual sales of $10 billion, temporary store vendors earn 70 percent to 80 percent of their revenue during the holiday season. What’s more, the ranks of short-term stores swell during the holiday season when shopping centers rent open common spaces or vacant stores to peak-season-only vendors. Operating with a lower overhead than traditional stores, they test the markets for trendy items and holiday merchandise with a short shelf life.

For many startups, a cart provides a foothold into permanency. Mauricio Chediak of B. Fashions operates two fashion jewelry kiosks, with average sales of $18,000 to $20,000 per month at each location. After operating kiosks for several years, Chediak this year has begun to open permanent store locations in area malls throughout South Florida. As a kiosk tenant, Chediak spends $5,500 to rent each cart, compared to $9,000 to $12,000 to rent traditional retail space. A kiosk, he said, "is a great idea for a start-ups. The investment is affordable and you can see if it works."

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Retail Marketing: an all-natural beef niche

Reisz Natural Beef Farm store in Woodbine, Iowa sells all-natural choice beef ... frozen steaks, roasts and burgers. The integrated small company has a feedlot and does processing and packaging. No growth hormones or steroids in this meat, and calves are antibiotic free. Gift package sales were big this Christmas ("give the gift of meat"?) The Reisz brothers also set up shop in Omaha's historic Old Market, spending most Saturdays there spring through fall. Customers can also place orders on the company's web site,

Chocolate retailer war ends

Does this story make your mouth water? For 3 years Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and South Bend Chocolate sold chocolate next door to each other in Indianapolis.
"It was just an unusual situation where you had two competing companies selling identical products next to each other," said Steve Delaney, restaurant broker with Carmel-based The Linder Co. The 2,400-square-foot South Bend Chocolate store seemed like a giant when compared with Rocky Mountain's 800-square-foot venture. South Bend is a fusion between a chocolate shop and cafe, and Rocky Mountain had a niche as a carryout store. Rocky Mountain was there first, but now it is gone.
Chocolate is a pretty small niche for two stores side-by-side. Those South Bend guys are real cut-throat competitors!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Retail Management: tale of two electronics retailers

A tale of two electronics retailers. One grew and grew, and tried to compete with the big box retailers. The other expanded slowly and stuck to a more focused, exclusive niche. I think you know how this story ends.

Retail store management: markdowns

You can control markdowns in your retail store with pre-season planning and in-season adjustments. This article lays out the basics on getting a handle on excessive markdowns.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Retail Marketing: image and packaging

An article from the New York Times tells the story of Fresh, a chain of body care retail shops. Started as a mom-and-pop store, they now have international locations. The stores flourish despite paying up to $600 per square foot rent. How do they do it? They've identified a high-end niche market and created a successful image and packaging. Instead of a cookie cutter approach, each store is design to fit into its neighborhood. It's a good story. The very classy Fresh website.

Retail Management: skill to store

The young owner of Anna Street Studio has taken her skill with design and fabric from hobby to studio production to retail store in three years. That's a real lesson in the power of doing what you love and building a niche with unique products.

E-Commerce: big gains in holiday sales

From Nov. 1 through Dec. 26, consumers spent $14.8 billion online -- representing a 29 percent year-over-year increase. All retailers, no matter how small, should at least experiment with e-commerce. If you can establish a niche, the world will be your market.