Savvy Store Solutions

Carol L Schroeder
Veteran retailer Carol Schroeder shares her experience and perspective on the ups and downs of being a gift retailer.
  • Be Nimble

    “Holidays cast pall over department stores,” reads the headline on an Associated Press story by Joseph Pisani.  “The future of department stores seems bleak as they close locations — and thus give shoppers fewer options at the mall and more reason to just stay home and shop online,” the article states. The demise of department stores is not good news for independent retailers located in malls anchored by one or more of these giants.  The decline in traffic will be hard on all the other stores that depended on the department store to draw customers.  Pisani quotes Mark Cohen, a retail ... Read More
  • New Year, New Form

    Are you ready for the new version of the I-9 form that recently made its debut? Not the most exciting news for the start of 2017,  but it’s good to know that as of January 22,  all employees hired on or after that date must complete the new I-9 form to verify their identity and work authorization.   You won’t need to redo forms on file. Just continue to follow existing storage and retentions rules for all of your previously completed Forms I-9.  The new version includes several changes designed to reduce errors and make it easier for employers ... Read More
  • Post-Holiday Triage

    You may be wondering why today’s blog illustration is of a clock with a statue of Napoleon.  Bear with me, because there is a reason.  This post is about the need for triage after the holidays, a term that is thought to have originated from the work of Dominique Jean Larrey doing the Napoleonic Wars.  Those who survived the battles were divided into three categories:     Those likely to live, regardless of what care they receive     Those unlikely to live, regardless of what care they receive     Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome As soon ... Read More
  • Make It Easy

    We got an email today from Fishs Eddy, one of our newer suppliers, recommending their gift boxed sets of products for lazy shoppers. At this time of year, I think the appeal should not be to lazy shoppers, but to busy ones. We want to make it as easy as possible for last-minute customers to get great gifts from our shops. Gifts sets like the ones Fishs Eddy is recommending are one way to do this. Some of the companies you buy from may offer pre-made sets, and if you have some of these in stock be sure to stack ... Read More
  • Helpful Holiday Hints

    Don’t you love a good infographic when you want some quick ideas? They’re not really new—once source claims the first one was created In 1626, when Christoph Scheiner published a book that depicted his research about the rotation of the sun. But I’m looking at one that is less than a week old called Last-Minute Ideas to Maximize Your Holiday Sales , by Lisa Goller on the Range Me Blog. There is lots of helpful information on Lisa’s chart, which like any good infographic is scrupulous about giving its sources. One section that caught my eye ... Read More
  • Stop Digging

    If you are a prairie dog, it’s a good idea to keep on digging. In fact the average prairie dog burrow is some 9’ underground, and up to 33’ long. But in retailing, we need to pay attention to the concept of sunk cost and quit while we’re ahead. The term sunk cost, also known as retrospective costs, refers to money spent that cannot be recovered. An example might be a sizable POS system investment that was made just a few years ago. If the store is no longer functioning smoothly with this technology, it doesn’t help ... Read More
  • Small Data, Big Gains

    We have heard so much lately about the failure of Big Data to predict the outcome of the presidential election, but we may not realize that this technology is used by large retailers to make decisions all the time. Described by one provider as "the ocean of information we swim in every day," big data evaluates information gleaned from computers, mobile devices and machine sensors to help businesses make decisions. Another definition says that the technology uses large data sets to evaluate patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. The opposite of big data is of ... Read More
  • Beyond Fruit Baskets

    Are you doing all you can to tap into the corporate gift market? According to the Advertising Specialty Institute, $48 was the average purchase by companies giving gifts to clients and potential customers  last year, a 9% increase from the year before. Food and beverages were the most popular items, the ASI reports, followed by useful office items such as engraved pens and flash drives with corporate logos on them. Even companies rewarding their own employees gave food and beverages if they didn’t use a cash bonus or gift cards as a thank you. Fruit baskets and popcorn tins ... Read More
  • Black Friday and Beyond

    Thanksgiving weekend is both an opportunity and a challenge for the independent retailer. We’ve already seen a lot of press in our area about the shopping malls vowing to remain closed on Thanksgiving, which makes me a bit jealous. We’ve never been open on Thanksgiving — and I don’t think any other shop on Monroe Street has either — and yet we didn’t think to send out press releases announcing the fact. Maybe it’s not too late for you to do that. The day after Thanksgiving is of course now known as Black Friday. According to a ... Read More
  • Share Your Success

    Thank you to everyone who reads this weekly blog! If you share my interest in helping your fellow retailers, I have a favor to ask. I’m hoping you’ll be willing to share a short success story to be featured in the upcoming 4th edition of my book, Specialty Shop Retailing. Entries selected to be included as a “Great Idea” will receive full credit, and a free copy of the book. Please send your idea to me at by December 15. Kindly limit your submission to a maximum of 3 sentences, and focus on a single ... Read More
  • Just Right

    Do you know how many different types of toothpaste are offered in the average grocery store? A recent Consumer Reports article said 27—and that’s just under the Crest brand. Colgate added another 25. It’s no wonder that their survey of subscribers shows that 36% of those responding said they were overwhelmed by the information they had to process to make a buying decision. A good specialty shop simplifies life for the consumer by editing choices down to a reasonable number. Traditional retailing wisdom would say that for every product line, you should do this by offering a ... Read More
  • Natural Habitat: Halfway Wild

    I miss the days when I didn’t have to bribe my kids to go outdoors. As a toddler, my younger daughter used to bang on the back door, her ‘subtle’ signal that she wanted to play in the backyard. It didn’t matter if it was pouring buckets or sleeting on a cold, spring-ish day; this kid needed to breathe the fresh air and feel the wind on her skin. It was partly because I knew she had developed a true affinity for all the creatures who lived outdoors permanently. To her, it wasn’t fair that they could ... Read More