biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies 09: 7 great retail tips from SITE

by Grace Bonney

last week pam from pillows and throws shared retail advice and this week mackenzie from SITE (click here for a tour of her queens home!) is sharing 7 great tips for surviving and thriving in your retail business. there are some great tips here that apply to every business, whether you’re retail or not so be sure to click “read more” below to read mackenzi’s tips! thanks, mackenzie!

CLICK HERE for mackenzi’s post after the jump!

Times are tough, and there are moments when it seems like it can’t get any tougher for small retailers all over the country. When things started to get a bit too rough, I decided to turn off the negative and instead take in anything I could find that might help my small store and the businesses of those around me. Here are 7 great tips I hope will inspire and encourage stores big and small. Happy selling!

Be open more

Sounds simple, but those extra hours you put in can really add to your bottom line. Unlike other costlier ventures, like say, restaurants, retailers have relatively little hourly overhead and low employee costs. Why not turn this into an advantage by staying open longer, opening earlier, or selling on a day you don’t currently? Many of my retailer friends have opened on Mondays, traditionally their closed day, to help boost sagging sales. Others have chosen to open an hour earlier or stay open a bit later to capture those few extra sales.

Reinvest in your business

Don’t forget to invest back into the business as much as you can. Make the effort to bring in new product lines, repair store fixtures/signage/displays that are aging, update your website or other branding tools, and make sure you have the right insurance for your business. These investments will more than pay for themselves in the long run!

Branding is important

Make sure people know who you are and why customers must come see you! Keep your image consistent- packaging, websites, promotional materials, etc should all reflect your particular message, tone, and theme. Don’t miss a single opportunity to remind people you’re amazing and they should visit you now.

The best branding idea I’ve come across recently was created by the talented folks at the Madison, WI shop Pop Deluxe. Upon receiving an adorable plate set from their store for my birthday, I noticed that on the back of each item was a small sticker with their store’s name and a small message to check out their website, and it worked. I frequently check their new online stock and even had the chance to visit them personally last time I was in the Midwest. Without that sticker, I would have never known about another great shop. Why not take the time to make some cute, simple stickers for your product and get the word out there?


Ok, I’ll be the first to admit I used to have, um, some rather negative feelings about fellow stores in my area. We share customers, and maybe even product sensibility from time to time, and yeah, we all want to be the best, but hating on the competition isn’t just in poor form, it’s also hurting you. The people who do what you do have the most to teach you! Take the time to reach out to your fellow store owners- ask them for help solving a tricky issue or bounce ideas off of them. Once I learned to embrace the people with whom I’m in direct competition, I not only gained great friends, but also some sage advice. And, the timing couldn’t be better to find someone to talk to. I enjoy the conversations with local business owners now more then ever- it helps to know I’m not alone in these tricky economic waters.

Get Help!

Chances are, you know someone who can make a huge difference in your business- for cheap. We all know cutting costs is vital in economic downturns like the one we’re currently in, but that doesn’t mean we have to do without! Talk to friends and family and find out how they can help you with what you’ve been meaning to get done. I’ve found my community is filled with talent: graphic designers, photographers, public relations gurus, sales help, and so much more, I just had to ask. When in doubt, offer a barter, gift certificate, dinner or drinks out in exchange for their amazing talent. Don’t put off another great idea- ask around and do it now!

Touch everything

My good friend, and owner of the best vintage shop in NYC, Loveday 31, swears by the magic of simply re-staging what you’ve already got. I can’t tell you how many times she’s encouraged me to just ‘touch everything’ in my store- and it works. Breathe fresh air into an old display by mixing in different merchandise, moving it to another location in the store or trying a new way of displaying it. Make the most of the money you’ve already invested in your merch!

Throw yourself a party

This is by far my favorite way to drum up sales and interest at my shop, SITE . It takes relatively little effort on my part; buy wine, some cupcakes, make a banging playlist, and email my customers, and before you know it, boom! A great night of sales. Parties make people feel good, they add to the sense of community, and it’s a great ‘thank you’ to your customers who stick by you through thick and thin. Events really make people feel special and it’s a great way to make your business stand out of the crowd. Invite some local press or your favorite local blogger too and make it a great press opportunity for your store as well!

Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my tips for retailing. I blog regularly at Economy This, a practical guide to small business, and would love to hear your ideas, comments, and suggestions on what helps you.

Suggested For You


  • This is one of my favorite Biz articles to date! Thanks so much for this series, I look forward to them every week and, as always, I’ll be linking. Such a wealth on information! I’m off to check out Economy This.

  • I really love this section you’ve been doing. Especially the March 31st post “ideas for making upturns in a downtime”. I’ve been reading it every week, and it’s inspired me so much that I’ve had a blog up for more than a year now, with an average about one post every few months. I have made 5 new posts in the past 4 days! Then posting links to it via facebook and getting a lot of hits. Not sure exactly what I want business-wise, but at least to make myself more visible is very cool. Thanks for the inspiration! http://www.letsdiefriends.com

  • You are so right about the touch everything idea! I worked in retail while running my own jewelry business and everytime someone touched something that had been sitting in the store for months without any action often sold teh same day. Strange but true.

  • I couldn’t agree with the last tip more. I am not much of a consumer myself but any time a store in my neighborhood emails me about a party their having, I’m there. And I usually buy something too!

  • What a great post. As a business owner it’s good to see someone doling out good advice for others. Fortunately we’ve got the branding part down, since that’s part of what we specialize in, but for most small businesses it’s the biggest void they have going. Sadly, image is REALLY important. And it is an investment, a very worthy one. I can’t wait to check out the firm you linked above.

    But great list. Great advice. I hope this is just what the doctor ordered for everyone who reads it! :)

  • I agree with everything you wrote, and we often talk to our customers about these exact things. It’s also a time to make sure you have the right inventory on the floor. Remember, customers vote with their wallets, and tracking the demand is critical. This is also a good time to learn your POS system and study the reports to find trends and demand that you can capitalize on!

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