Saturday, October 29, 2005

Retailers can learn from Wal-Mart

has had a long run of bad publicity, but now the retail giant is trying to polish its image. Wal-Mart announced Monday that it will add a new health care plan for workers, reward environment-friendly suppliers, and reduce its energy use. Wal-Mart says its full-time workers are paid an average of $9.68 an hour.

How does your little retail business stack up on social and environmental issues? If you pay your employees well and provide health care coverage, publicize that fact! Put up a discreet poster explaining how you treat your "associates" well. And what are you doing to lessen your impact on the environment? Recycling cardboard boxes? Installed efficient HVAC, natural lighting, or solar hot water heating? Let people know. Wal-Mart does.

Friday, October 28, 2005


This isn't strictly a retailing story, but I find it a fascinating commentary on business success in America today -- Headrush Inc. starts construction next week on a $15 million expansion of its paintball park and BMX track in Syracuse, New York. $15 million!

The existing 31,000 square foot building gets upgraded paintball fields, an arcade, a full kitchen and a 12,500 square foot addition that will include an indoor skatepark. A new 50,000 square foot building will house an indoor supercross track and a retail outlet for bikes, ATVs, jet skis and more. The facility will also provide an outdoor motocross track for racing during the summer months.

A 87-room Wingate hotel at the park will have conference facilities for big events. The hotel is a convenience for traveling teams and for players attending large events at the park.

"Experiences" and physical play are growth fields that are untapped in much of the nation. Can your retail business experiment by setting up a few events or by integrating entertainment like American Girl does? (Headrush sells franchises for those intrigued by this specific opportunity.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Dinostore discovered alive in Mississippi

Reeds of Tupelo, Mississippi is one of the last "dinostores" -- downtown department stores left from another age of retailing. The Northeast Mississippi Journal has a good long article about the store and the family that owns it.

Maybe the revitalization that's helped so many small downtowns across the nation will enable these retailers to survive and prosper. There certainly seems to be a niche available for upper-end stores in rural towns. The Peebles chain is one that has prospered in that role.