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This article was prepared for the July 25, 2001 edition of U.S. 1

Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Hope for Mom & Pops

<d>Jon Schallert, a business consultant specializing

in advice for retailers, says most retail businesses that fail would

not have to close if they had adapted to easily recognizable

marketplace

changes and focused on becoming consumer destinations. Schallert

speaks

on "Creating a Destination Business," on Wednesday, July 25,

at 6 p.m., and on "If They Stop Here Once, I’ll Sell Them

Year-round,"

on Friday, July 27, at 11:30 a.m. Both free talks take place at Thomas

Edison State College. Call 609-393-8998.

Schallert, a graduate of the University of Colorado, has been a

teacher

(English and drama), a detailer, selling gift items to store owners,

the owner of a direct mail newspaper, and a marketer with Hallmark

Cards. He left Hallmark when he was offered a transfer from his home

in Florida to New York City, and started Schallert & Associates in

Sorrento, Florida.

In an article on his website (www.retail.USA.com), Schallert offers

this advice to retailers concerned about keeping ahead of the

competition.

Look at your store from the consumer’s point of view.

A positive first impression can be marred by the clutter, grungy

carpet,

and dusty merchandise that become invisible to an owner who sees it

every day. Other less noticeable items detract also, such as dim

lights

or burned-out light bulbs, paint colors that don’t match, and multiple

flyers and signs in the windows. Bring in an "outside pair of

eyes" to critique the business and then follow through with the

changes.

Become an expert in a profitable niche. Make sure that

at least some items in your store have above average mark-ups of five,

10, or 15 times cost. Often this means searching for a special niche

category and finding suppliers who are just starting out.

Make an emotional impact on your shoppers. Most stores

and their employees focus on customer transactions, not appealing

to shoppers’ feelings. That’s the wrong attitude. Owners must work

to make their stores radiate joy, excitement, or some other powerful

emotion. For a shopper today to put up with any inconvenience, they

must love the store they shop.

Adapt to changing market conditions. Independent book

store owners who sit still while Barnes & Noble and Borders move

nearby

won’t survive long; they must give book buyers a reason to seek them

out. A store might expand its selection of mysteries, solicit authors

for book signings, and offer personalized gift service that allows

customers to send attractive, gift-wrapped packages of carefully

selected

mysteries and related items.

Don’t try to do it all yourself. Put together a network

of people who can provide technical expertise and specialized advice.

"Most retailers become successful by being independent and relying

on themselves. This is often the same trait that keeps a retailer

from growing his business to new heights."

Follow this advice, Schallert says, and it might just be

possible

to keep moving ahead against the behemoth retailers. "It’s an

oversimplification," he says, "to say that all small Mom and

Pop businesses are doomed because of superstores, or because of a

proliferation of malls throughout the country.


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