Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Buying Word of Mouth Part 2

I bought people talking about my store for only $418.

This next project cost about the same - and I didn't have to pay for it!!

Candy Chang started a project down in New Orleans by turning sheets of plywood into interactive works of art by asking people to finish this sentence - Before I die, I want to...

The interactive chalkboards have become a worldwide phenomenon.

I first learned about the project back in the spring and was kicking around the idea when a local artist approached me, wanting to use the side of our building for this project. She applied for a local grant of $500 and the board you see pictured is the result.

This picture was taken the day after the board was installed. You can see that it was already two-thirds full. The success of that board has prompted us to put up two more - My Favorite Toy... and the original Before I Die...

Now we have people talking and writing (and showing up)!

After the boards are up, we'll install the webcam (for both novelty and security).

You can get word-of-mouth when you do over-the-top things in and around your store. Heck, you can duplicate this one quite easily.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS We used 1/4" sanded plywood primed and painted with chalkboard paint. You could also use black flat paint if you're on a tight budget. Doesn't erase as well, but it still works. The borders are made with 1"x2" poplar boards - the hardwood will last a little longer and hold up a little better. But just a simple piece of painted plywood will do the trick, too (but use a thicker plywood). The words are painted on (you can use a stencil or freehand it or even leave the board blank except for the header).The sidewalk chalk is in a 6" cube acrylic box with a hinged lid.

The two other boards also have received funding through generous grants. See if there is money for art in your community.

Prepping the boards for mounting.

You can see the border - simple carpentry.

The chalk box.

Maggie, the artist behind the project and Dave, the carpenter.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Your Store is an Extension of You

I've been preaching this point for a number of years. 

What is important to you is what you will focus on in your store.

We have always been a prompt store. We close at 6:00pm, but we turn out half the lights at 5:55pm and start the process of closing down cash registers while customers are still in the store. We often have the doors locked and are clearing out before the last car has left the parking lot.

Yeah, deep down I know that we are not giving our best customer service at this time because the appearance is that we are in a hurry to leave. Yet, we've always done it this way.

Then it dawned on me.

My mom is all about being on time. She still gives me grief for being born a day late. Says I've been late ever since. Promptness is one of her Core Values. She lives the Shakespeare quote, "Better three hours too early than one minute too late." She got this trait from her mom, who with my grandpa founded Toy House.

For forty-four years prior to my arrival, this was one of the dominating traits of the people in charge and it became our method of operation. We open on time (or early) and we close on time. 

Period. Unquestioned. Customer Service be damned.

Your store is an extension of you and what you believe. It is an extension of your values. Your policies and your procedures reflect what you hold dear. Whether you do it consciously or subconsciously.

All I ask is that you do it consciously.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS I work hard to push the idea that the last customer of the day gets the same wonderful service as the first customer of the day. But perception is reality. We could very well be undoing all the good we did servicing the customer by being in such a hurry to close up.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

If You're Not Happy, Don't Settle

I finished the stage, well at least the main part of it. We still have some decorations to complete, but the stage was up, the curtain was in place, people were using it.

Something didn't look quite right to my eye.

This morning my wife made a suggestion. She was absolutely right. I had put the curtain in the wrong spot. The easy solution was to just live with it. Was it horrible? No. Was it workable? Yes.

The bigger question was what would it take to fix it?

The answer was one hour and one band aid.
Before - with the curtain at the front edge of the platform.

After - with the curtain moved back.

Now the stage fits my eye better. Now the stage has a space in front of the curtain for storytellers, performers, maybe even a visit from Santa. Now the performers can be seen from a wider angle. Now the stage looks more like a stage and less like a curtained room.

The lesson? Before you settle for something not quite perfect, ask yourself these two questions.

  1. Can I fix it?
  2. Can I live with it? 

If you can answer yes to the first question, fix it. Period. If you answer no to the first, but you can answer yes to the second, keep it as is. If you answer no to both, scrap it and start over.

Yes, this applies to just about everything. Just be sure to ask the questions in the right order.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Don't settle. Make the effort to fix the things you can fix. It pays off in the long run. You are in this for the long run, right?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Buying Word-of-Mouth

I bought Word-of-Mouth advertising.

Paid just over $400 for it.

There are four different ways you can consistently get people to talk about you.

  • Over-the-Top Design
  • Over-the-Top Service
  • Over-the-Top Generosity
  • Sharing Secrets

Roy H. Williams taught me the first three. The fourth I figured out on my own.

Yesterday during our Fourth Friday Game Night we decided to play Charades. It was an easy decision. We needed a game to christen our brand new stage.

Why would we take valuable retail space and build a stage?

  • Puppet Shows
  • Story Times
  • Guest Performers
  • Charades
  • Dress-up Clothes
  • Staged Productions
  • General Play (who doesn't love getting up on a stage just for fun?)
  • Word-of-Mouth
  • Because it is consistent with our Core Value of Having Fun

I spent $75 on the wood for the platforms, another $128 for the carpet, $25 for the poles, and $190 for the curtains. Total cost = $418.

People will talk.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS We still have a few details to finish such as a header above the curtain and the backdrop. Every time someone takes a photo of their precious one "performing", the Toy House name and logo will be visible.
We used 2" x 8" boards and 3/4" plywood to build the platform in 3 sections.

The carpet is simply stapled down using a carpet stapling gun generously loaned to us by Christoff's Carpet & Floor Covering.
The curtains are held up with 1" PVC pipe anchored to 2 walls. The section to the right is a "backstage" area designed for when we do performances.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Ripple Effect

I attended a reunion for former staff at YMCA Storer Camps last weekend. One of the events was celebrating 75 years of their horse program including 50 years of a dedicated ranch just for would-be wranglers.

Tom Brown brought out a horse named Zach. Zach was 29 years old and had been giving rides to children for 24 years.

"Just think about all the kids Zach has carried these past 24 years, raising their self-esteem and giving them an experience they'll never forget."

I admit I got choked up. At that moment I looked around and realized there were close to 200 former staff members in attendance. Like Zach, we all had lifted up children, raised their self-esteem, and gave them experiences they'll never forget.

A single counselor in a single summer has direct influence on at least 48 campers and indirect influence on another 200-300 kids. Some of the people at the reunion had worked at camp for decades.

Doing some quick math, I figure collectively, the people in that dining hall last Saturday night had influenced over half a million children, most who were better for that experience. And those children went on to make a difference in the lives of others. And so on and so on.

This kind of ripple effect is not just reserved for camp counselors and teachers and people who work with youth. Indie retailers also make difference. You make a difference because you care about what products you sell. You make a difference because you care about the experiences you offer. You make a difference in the lives of your customers. You make a difference because of your involvement in your community.

Sometimes it is worth it to stop and think about the ripple effect you have on your market. You've made a huge difference in the lives of many of your customers. Some of them have paid it forward by shopping more local, by referring others to local shops, and by doing more to support you and your community.

You've made an incredible impact on your community that reaches exponentially farther than you can imagine.

Keep up the good work. The ripple effect is amazing. Just ask George Bailey.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS It is good to take stock from time to time and remind yourself about the influence you have to change the world around you. It grows exponentially every single year. Do something worthy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Head Cheerleader

Who is the head cheerleader for your business?

Who is the one that puts the smile on everyone's face and the determination in their hearts? Who picks people up when they are down, finds the silver lining in the cloud, points out the positives?

Who raises the energy level up when it starts to lag? Who gets everyone on board when something new happens? Who makes sure the projects get done right and on time and with a good attitude?

Right now you're expecting me to say this is your job.

It isn't.

You need an influencer on your staff. You need a high-energy, positive-attitude, get-it-done person on your staff. You need a head cheerleader on your staff. Someone that isn't you. You probably already have this person on the team.

Can you identify that person right now? She is the most important person on your team, regardless of her position. She has your back. She makes things go. She infects everyone with her approach.

Seth Godin calls her the linchpin.

You can call her anything you want. Just be sure to appreciate what she does for your business and make sure you do what you have to do to keep her. And if you don't have one, go out a find one. She is worth far more than you'll ever pay her.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Yes, you can have more than one on your staff. In fact, try to have a full team of cheerleader/linchpins if you can. Makes your job a lot easier.

How do you find them? You identify the traits you want them to have, write an ad that spells out who they are, set up an interview process that identifies those traits, and put in place a program that rewards them and keeps them happy. Sounds simple and intuitive, but you would be surprised how many retailers (including big chains) have no such system in place.

Friday, October 18, 2013

What's in a Name (Tag)? Money!

Do you and your employees wear name tags? Are they hidden down at the belt level or on a lanyard so that they turn backwards hiding your name?

If your employees cannot be easily identified by name, you are missing one more chance to delight your customers.

It is one thing to introduce yourself, "Hi, I'm Phil. Thanks for coming in, today." Some people will remember your name. Most will not. They are too busy thinking of themselves. They are expecting "sales-clerk-speak" and not paying attention. They are looking around, distracted by your superb merchandising.

If you have a name tag, however, they will look at that tag for confirmation of what they thought they heard.

Knowing your name connects them to you. Makes you more than a sales clerk. Gives you a sense of humanity.

Knowing your name makes you seem more friendly.

Knowing your name also gives your customer a feeling of power. She knows you can't screw up because knowing your name means she can call you out to the manager. She also has the power to praise you to your manager. Without a name, she's less likely to speak up. Without a name, she feels just a little less empowered.

A customer is far more likely to buy more from someone she knows by name. (bigger tickets)
A customer is far more apt to return to a store where she knows the employees by name. (repeat business)
A customer is far more likely to refer her friends to a sales person she knows by name. (referrals)

A great introduction is still worth its weight in gold, but the reinforcement of well-placed, easy-to-read name tag makes your job of delight easier.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that my own staff's name tags need an overhaul. If you serve a lot of Boomers like we do, make the font for the first name big and simple.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

One Very Important Person

You have an opportunity. A true VIP is coming to your door. Someone with a lot of influence. Friends in high places. Someone who makes the who's who list every time, everywhere.

You know you need to step up your game. You know you need to pull out all the stops for this one person. You don't want to give away the store. No deep discounts. That won't impress this person. Plus, you don't want to set a precedent that all of this person's followers will want a discount, too.

You just have to make the kind of impression that gets this person to talk about you, to sing your praises, to spread the good word.

What are you going to do differently?

Ask that question of your staff at your next staff meeting. Put out a notice 24 hours in advance that you're going to talk about a VIP visiting your store soon and what you need to do. Then lay out the scenario above.

What are you going to do differently?

Then ask this question... How could we practice this so that when the VIP arrives, we get it right?

You know the answers they are going to give. We could role play with each other. We could rehearse. We could try it out on some of the other customers already coming in the store. Ding, ding, ding! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Practice it on every single customer that comes in today. Then evaluate what worked and what didn't. Practice it again with the upgrades on everyone tomorrow. Evaluate and repeat.

Then ask this final question... How will you know the VIP when he or she arrives?

You know the answer to that one.

You'll never really know how many followers on Pinterest will see the picture she just took of a product in your store. You'll never really know how many readers of her blog will share the article she wrote about the way you greeted her and followed her around the store. You'll never really know how many friends the woman who just walked quickly through without saying a word is meeting for lunch to talk about the group gift they are planning to buy. You'll never really know how many people that gal who said she's "just looking" is going to invite to the shower.

But if you get the staff to start practicing their VIP treatment on everyone, they're going to nail it when that VIP truly arrives.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS If you ask the staff, "What are you going to do differently?" and they say, "Not a damn thing!" either you have an extremely well-trained staff who is already kicking butt or one that doesn't have a clue. Either way, you have to fire the whole team and start over (the first group doesn't want to do anything differently, the second doesn't know how to do anything differently). For your sake, I hope they have some suggestions.

PPS For those who like me to spell out the obvious... Treat the very next customer like a VIP. Make her feel special. Then the next, then the next, then the next. Do it one customer at a time. Do it until you cannot treat the customer any other way. Every single customer is a VIP in her own way. Treat her like that and she will bring her network to you.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Math Behind a Sale

I had a vendor recently ask me to offer their items at 25% off for a month. They would split the difference of the sale off the wholesale price (12.5% discount on the cost). They figured this would be a big enough deal to drive a lot of traffic.

On the surface it looks good. 25% off a popular brand would probably drive some business. So I decided to do the math.

We'll use a hypothetical item, but the math comes out about the same no matter how you slice it. Let's assume two things... First, I have an item that I buy for $10 and sell for $19.99. Second, I expect to sell 10 units of this item every month.

In a typical month, my numbers would look like this:

Total Cost = $100 (10 units x $10 each)
Total Revenue = $199.90 (10 units sold x $19.99 each)
Gross Profit Dollars = $99.90 (Revenue minus Cost)

Now let's do the math with the sale discount. My new cost is now $8.75 ($10 minus 12.5%). My new retail is $14.99 ($19.99 minus 25%)

If I sell the same 10 units the math looks like this:

Total Cost = $87.50 (10 units x $8.50 each)
Total Revenue = $149.90 (10 units sold x $19.99 each)
Gross Profit Dollars = $62.40 (Revenue minus Cost)

Even though my discount was only 25% and the company was willing to lower the cost, the same ten units I was expecting to sell yielded a 37.5% decrease in Gross Profit. Wow!

Just to make the same Gross Profit Dollars as I already expected to make, I would need to sell 16 units at these new prices.

Total Cost = $140 (16 units x $8.75 each)
Total Revenue = $239.84 (16 units sold x $14.99 each)
Gross Profit Dollars = $99.84 (Revenue minus Cost)

To make this promotion worthwhile, I would need to sell 60% more units. More importantly, those 6 extra units had to be extra sales, not just sales from next month's expected ten units sold.

How do I sell 60% more units to new customers? I have to advertise. I have to announce the sale, create signs, post notices, change numbers in the cash register, alert the staff, order more products, schedule more staff.

Gee, by the time I do all that, I'm going to need an 80% increase in units sold to cover all the increased expenses.

It takes a lot more volume than you might think to make it up with volume as the old adage says.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS The math isn't that hard. Do the math and see what the numbers tell you. If you believe you will definitely sell 60-80% more units at the lower price, go for it. If you believe your Transactional Customers will jump on this item, go for it. If you believe the sale will draw enough traffic that will buy other regularly priced items, then consider the lost dollars on the sale items an advertising expense. If you need to move out a dog that isn't selling, go for it. Just do a little math first, so that you know what results you're shooting for.

PPS If your initial profit margin is lower than 50%, your increase in units sold to make the same gross profit dollars in a sale like this goes up. Just saying...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Can You Really Buy Loyalty?

How many of those loyalty scan cards do you have on your keychain? Your grocery store? Your pharmacy? Your office supply store?

Are you going in regularly with those coupons they mail you? Does it make a difference where you shop and how much you buy? For some customers, yes it does. The Transactional Customer loves those cards and takes full advantage of them. But not everyone does.

According to one survey, only about 65% of Americans actually use those loyalty program cards and coupons.

I question how many of those people would still be "loyal" to that store without the program. I know that the two cards I use are at places where I would shop anyway, whether I had the card or not. One of them, I actually hate shopping there. I only go because they have a product I can't get anywhere else, not because of any loyalty card.

More importantly, the top reasons people say they would switch their "loyalty" to another store is because of indifferent sales help and the other store being perceived as more fun. Price and loyalty programs are far down the list.

So how much "loyalty" are you really buying? First consider that 35% of the population doesn't care about loyalty programs. Then consider what percentage of those people using your program are actually spending more at your store than they might otherwise just because of the program. Is it more than what the program costs? I saw one program that promised if I gave away 10% discounts in my loyalty program I would see a 5% increase in sales. Not my kind of math. Then consider how quickly customers might leave your store, loyalty program and all, because of perceived indifference by your staff.

Would you really like to buy some loyalty? Spend your money on training a kick-ass staff. Spend your money making your store a more fun place to shop. Spend your money on delighting the 35% (or more) who could care less about discount cards and coupons.

That's a loyalty program worth having.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS And it won't be a burden on anyone's keychain.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

But Why Would I Need That?

You can lead a horse to water...

My friend, Rick, is a successful dentist with a wonderful practice. He has learned some principles along the way that he shares with other dentists. Good stuff, too, that makes a difference in their practices.

My friend, Chris, is an amazing visual artist. He is responsible for making my powerpoint slides much more impactful and meaningful. He has interesting insights on being an artist in a digital age. He makes a difference for starving artists.

My friend, Joel, put both of my books together. Did the covers, the layout, prepped them for printing. He does that for anyone who wants to self-publish. And he's darn good at it.

I teach classes for independent retailers wanting to take it to the next level. Eye-popping and jaw-dropping revelations on what it takes to be successful in this business climate.

We are all out there to help others succeed. And we all hear the same thing from people we know we could help.

But why would I need that?

Why would a dentist need to learn about marketing?
Why would an artist need to learn about communication?
Why would someone smart enough to write a book need an editor or designer or professional layout?
Why would an independent retailer who already opened a shop need help on running a retail business?

Rick is a dentist. Rick invests time learning about best marketing practices for dentists, learning new ways to serve customers, learning new ways to attract patients, learning new ways to communicate.

Chris is an artist. Chris invests time learning new ways to market his art, learning new ways to make his communications more effective, learning new ways to be successful in this age.

Joel is an author. Joel invests time learning how to self-publish books, learning new ways to build platforms, learning new ways to create websites, use social media, and design professional looking books.

I am a retailer. I invest time learning how to advertise my store, learning how to manage my inventory, learning how to hire and train, learning how to understand the financial side of retail.

All these guys are successful. They never asked the question... Why would I need that? Instead, they invested the time to learn.

You can lead a horse to water...  ...and if you can get him to float on his back and paddle, then you've got something.

You are a ___________. How are you investing your time?

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS If your answer is, "I don't have any time to invest," might I suggest that if you start investing now, you'll find the time?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Anatomy of a Staff Meeting - Play Value

Every staff meeting needs a goal. Not just any goal, but a big goal. Go big or go home.

This morning's staff meeting goal was: This will be a successful meeting if we understand the importance of Play Value, how our toys offer Play Value and the special needs of Play Value.

After that, I needed an activity to get the points across. The first two parts of the goal were simply review. We talk about Play Value all the time. We talk about the three pillars of a great toy. We talk about the two different ways kids play - Directorial & Participatory - all the time.

Today's meeting, however, was really about understanding the five different types of learning that toys offer kids of special needs. Cognitive, Communicative, Physical, Sensory, and Social/Emotional. I needed something big and memorable and visual that they could refer to later.

I came up with this.

I stood against the board and had a staff member trace my body. Then we talked about the five types as I drew shapes. Cognitive was a thought cloud coming up from the brain (yeah, okay, I wrote cognizant instead of cognitive - sue me). Communication was caption balloons coming from both sides of the mouth. Social/Emotional was a big heart in the chest. Sensory was two circles by each hand. Physical was trapezoids down by the legs.

The staff split into teams of two and went out to find a toy for each category. They presented their toys while I wrote each toy in the appropriate space. If there were any duplicates, that team had to go find a new toy. Pretty soon we had six toys for each category. And a huge visual. And a pattern of what kinds of toys fit each category. And a discussion of how to identify which category a customer's request might fit in.

Every meeting needs something unexpected. Since we already knew the first two parts of Play Value, I asked one person to get up and describe the three pillars. She nailed them and I gave her a $25 gas card. Two more questions, two more gas cards later, we had covered the basics. Not only did the gas cards delight the winners, it made the rest of the staff take notice that knowing this stuff was lucrative.

The discussion centered around recognizing the patterns of toys that fit each category of learning. We also discussed how to assess what a customer might want, what kinds of questions to ask. The visual of the big board with all the toys on it helped tremendously in the discussion.

Since there were no assigned tasks with this meeting, I simply made a copy of the following picture for everyone to keep and put the big board in a prominent spot in our warehouse.

Is your staff having this much fun at your staff meetings?

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS You don't need to sell toys to have fun meetings. But you do need to plan fun things. Don't know how? Start with Staff Meetings Everyone Wants to Attend. Then download the Staff Meetings Worksheet. Then send me a note if you need more ideas.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Broken Communication, Broken Trust

One of my employees bought a new house. She got bombarded with the typical mail a new home owner gets. Tons of offers for phone and Internet and cable services. She received close to a dozen offers from one particular company for her cable and Internet.

She finally decided to talk to an agent. You all know how that worked out.

The great offers in the mailings were nowhere to be found in the offers made by the agent. In fact, he seemed to have no clue about them and wasn't about to go find out.

Words like slimy, snake oil, scam artist, and bait-and-switch come to mind. Definitely a huge lack of trust.

But what if he just didn't know? What if no one in marketing had told him about the great deals they were mailing out to potential customers? What if no one had trained him well enough to know where and when to check for special deals? What if no one had followed up to make sure he was aware of the current programs?

What if you told your customers about a great deal or announced a fun event on Facebook and forgot to tell your part-time high school kid who only works nine hours a week? Forgot to inform the weekend manager who had been on vacation?  Forgot to train your seasonal staff to read the promotions book at the beginning of each shift?

Can you see how trust can be so easily broken?

My general optimism would like to believe that what my employee experienced with the cable company was nothing more than a communication problem between marketing and sales. Whether that is true or not, at least it is a lesson we all can learn.

If you're planning an event or a promotion. Make sure everyone is in on it and knows ALL the details. The trust you've already worked so hard to earn depends on it.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Your entire reputation can hinge on the actions of one employee to one customer. Bad will spreads much more easily than good will. That's a lot of pressure to make the right decisions in the hiring and training process. If you haven't yet read Hiring and the Potter's Wheel: Turning Your Staff into a Work of Art, now might be a good time before you start hiring for the holidays.

Friday, October 4, 2013

More Than a Fair Exchange of Value

You all know I follow a bunch of blogs. You've probably read a blog or two on my blog roll. I read them because they challenge me. They challenge my thoughts on retail. They challenge what I think I know. A few minutes ago, I read this on a blog about Customer Loyalty.

5) Deliver a “fair exchange of value”. Too often retailers want to create “delighted” customers. Many retailers spend far too large a percentage of their revenue trying to create “delighted” customers. The reality is that customers want a fair exchange of value and rarely expect a retailer to delight them. Give them a good value, provide a comfortable and efficient shopping experience, work with them through any issues, solve their problems, and they’ll become not just loyal, but committed.

Can I agree to disagree?

Yes, customers expect a fair exchange of value. I grant that. But a fair exchange of value is the minimum. It is the bar. You have to do that just to keep them from flaming you on Facebook or Yelp. Do anything less than a fair exchange of value and you're screwed. It is the lowest level of entry into the game.

Customers expect a fair exchange of value from frickin' Wal-Mart!

If all you give them is a fair exchange of value, then you're no better than Wal-Mart. And in today's retail environment, that is not good enough. It might get you a thanks, but it won't win you loyalty.

After you give them a fair exchange of value, you have to delight them. You have to make them say WOW! You have to make them think of you not as a store, but as their new bestie. You have to delight them to the point they cannot wait to tell their friends, tell their co-workers, tell their family.

Loyalty doesn't come from a discount or cash back. You aren't loyal to your friends or family because of the financial kickbacks. You're loyal because of your shared values. You're loyal because your friends and family have your back. You're loyal because at the end of the day, you know those people care.

If you want loyalty from your customers, you better first give them a fair exchange of value. Then you better have their backs, you better share their values, and you better care.

My own personal belief is that too often retailers don't do anywhere near enough to delight their customers. Yet that is where the loyalty is hiding.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS This doesn't mean I'll stop reading that blog. There is always something to learn. The true key phrase in that passage above is, "Customers... rarely expect a retailer to delight them." Just think how much you will stand out in the crowd when you're the exception to that rule.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Three More Ways to Freshen Up Your Store

I gave you four inexpensive ways to make your store look fresh.

Here are three more things you can do that might cost a little more, but will definitely freshen up the place.

  • Do a Wholesale Change of Fixtures. Move them around. Change the directions. Change the locations. Keep in mind things like sight lines, traffic patterns, and where you want to lead your customers, but nothing does more to freshen up the joint than to do a wholesale change of the merchandise.
  • Put Posters on the wall. Hang them from the ceiling, too. Put up fun posters with cute pictures of your products in use. Put up adorable pictures with interesting quotes. Put up informational posters that talk about your philosophies, how to shop your products, or how to make smarter choices. Guys like to read posters (better than having to talk to an actual person). Introverts like to read posters, too. New signage always brightens up the place.
  • Add a new Design Element that gets people talking. Add in something fun and unexpected. Put in a stage for performers. Build a tree right in the middle of your store - complete with bark and branches (and decorate it for Christmas when the time comes). Build a mountain out of plaster and paper mache and use it as the focal point of a display. Put in a fountain. Add a disco ball to the bathroom. Put a picnic area, table and all, right outside the front door. Put up a directional mileposts pole (North Pole 3,303 miles). Not only will your store be fresh and hip and cool. People will be talking about you.

Later this week we will have these Before I Die... chalkboards up on the side of our building.

Yeah, people will be talking about us. That's the first half of the battle. You know what the second half is.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Along with the Before I Die project, we're doing three of those other things listed above. My resident artist is working on our directional milepost pole with 46 real and fictional locales ("Where the Wild Things Are" is my favorite!). More posters are going up on the wall soon. And I am heading to the lumber yard tomorrow to buy the wood for our stage. What are you doing to make your store fresh and exciting?