Editor’s letter: a modest action plan for retailers

by Karen Alberg Grossman

Let’s first remind ourselves that this too shall pass: as precarious as life seems at the moment, we will get through it. Our country has a history of shining brightest when it’s dark: stories of ordinary people helping each other out in times of crisis truly lift the soul.

Here, a few tips that might lift a few spirits right now:

**Stay connected to your customers. Social media, emails, postcards, phone calls—all of this means so much more when people are stuck at home. No hard-selling please at this time but why not gently remind your customers that buying something new for themselves, their spouse, or a friend provides a definite uplift that we all could use these days. Direct them to your website, with a few gift suggestions at various pricepoints.

**You don’t have a website!!!  Now’s the time to create one. You’ll likely find plenty of talented underemployed tech people in your town who will be delighted to help you out. (Craig Beecroft from Beecroft & Bull just made his first move into selling online with a new site; his note to customers begins like this: “We are proud of our brick-and-mortar heritage but recent global events necessitated the creation of a safe alternative to our in-store shopping experience…”)

**Encourage store gift certificates. Some retailers are offering discounts (20 percent off), others not, but either way—it’s a great vehicle to jumpstart cash flow and get customers coming back into the store once it reopens.

**Why not try virtual trunk shows on social media?  (Trevor Furbay of Trevor Furbay Bespoke in Cincinnati did one with Mizzen & Main yesterday on Instagram that was quite successful.)

**Stay connected to your vendors: not only do you need them for future business but they too can surely use a friend. Recognize that they’re also struggling, many with warehouses filled with spring product that no one’s taking. They too have bills to pay, employee salaries, health insurance, 401K’s disappearing, etc. A little empathy goes a long way.

**If it hasn’t yet been mandated in your city or state, please encourage your retailer colleagues to close their stores for 2-3 weeks and then reassess. At the moment, it seems the best possible way to flatten the curve and avert the nightmare our friends in Italy are currently confronting.

**Be optimistic. Politics aside, our government is stepping in and allocating funds to help businesses and individuals in need. Low-interest loans will be widely available and things will get back to normal. In the meantime: be well, be safe and be kind. 

12 Replies to “EDITOR’S LETTER: A MODEST ACTION PLAN FOR RETAILERS”

  1. Dear Karen, More reasons why you are a treasure and so loved by retailers and vendors! You continue to bring to the forefront the best and great heartfelt guidance.
    This is to be a tough time for both retailers and vendors, but we must be positive and believe to come out of this ever stronger. We all need to take time and focus on how to be better and take best care of ourselves in order to continue this love we have for this industry.
    While this being a HUGE road bump, looking down the road can feel the needs to get out, shop, look and feel good again with a vengeance.

    1. This feels a lot like 9/11. In many ways 9/11 in NY was scarier as many of us knew somebody effected directly. It was not appropriate to clientele & you thought at any moment something else would happen.

      When the “edge” becomes the new normal the smart ones will start thinking less about playing defense , but how to go to offense. Idea after idea until you are exhausted. That is what it will take.

      Also figuring out who you are going in a foxhole with is important. Surround yourself with your “trusted” business partners & believe together. Give it all you can and guess what, you’ll end up stronger .

  2. Very important information
    Now is the tine for vendors to back up their philosophy of our relationship to our client’s is in fact a partnership.
    We are all in this together and will survive together
    Be concerned and be there for each other
    Steve Horowitz, SE rep for Jack Victor Clothing and Hagen Clothing

  3. Dear Karen,
    Standing on Psalm 91 at this time will confirm God’s Promises to us all who have faith.
    If any menswear stores need a functional on line eCommerce site we have one for sell.
    They can contact me by email or phone it’s going to be officially on the Market once this Virus get’s under control Globally.
    Kind Regards
    Gio@fsbmens.com
    561.376.3778

  4. Karen you are the best example of what makes this country and our industry so great . Your passion , commitment and kindness to others . Keep smiling and hopefully some hugs soon
    Yours truly
    Arnie

  5. Dear Karen,
    Thank you for these positive words of encouragement. Praying that all are OK. One day at a time. We need to continue to stay creative and move forward.

    1. Dear Karen; Thanks for the encouragement and the suggestions…I will take my customer list home and reach out. we will work our way through this.

  6. Karen
    When the Global Financial Crisis occurred in the fall of 2008, Elon University President, Leo Lambert, wrote his letter for the Magazine of Elon and it was titled Everything’s Gonna Be ALL RIGHT. The first paragraph of the letter states “A couple days ago my friend Jim Melvin, president of the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation and one of the founding fathers of the Elon University School of Law, told me he was inducting me into the EGBAR club, originally founded by Greensboro attorney and entrepreneur Sydney Stern. There were no dues or meetings, just a requirement to maintain a POSITIVE, OPTIMISTIC attitude about the world. EGBAR is an acronym for “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right”. I keep this article posted in my office to remind me that even in the crazy times we live in Everything’s Gonna Be All Right! I am happy to induct you into the EGBAR Club. Our nation will get the coronavirus under control I do not have a doubt!

  7. Great points, Karen. Yes, we are all in this together. Hoping all retailers and vendors heed your advice, and act on your suggestions. Somehow, someway, we will make it through this craziness!

  8. Karen – A wonderful pause of instruction to all of us. I agree, you are a treasure. Thanks for your positivity! Regardless of how everything shakes out, we all need to keep doing “the next right thing”. How we react, survive and help, can make these multi generations the next “Greatest Generation(s)”. This is our time. Defeat the enemy. Talkin’ Bout my Generations!!!

  9. Karen, We will survive. As my father told me many years ago when we were deciding if I was going into this business “ As long as men are not naked, you have a future. “ He did add that you need to recognize change as when separate collars went out. Thought time bring tough men/women.

    1. Karen,
      Thank you so much for bringing a moment of light to a dark time. It is through bi-lateral partnerships that allow us to hold each other up and be strong. It won’t be easy with each day and week that passes but if we all work collectively, we will get back into a positive groove. We at Corneliani cherish our Specialty Stores as we too are a small business in the US and need their support to make feasible decisions together. In communicating to many over this past week I am proud to say I feel that synergy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *