museums&MORE Fall 2010
Editor’s Letter: A Fresh Coat of Paint

By Abby Heugel, Managing Editor

I’ve recently had my house painted.

Upon meeting one of the painters for the first time, him covered in specks of primer and me in my work clothes, the first thing he said to me had nothing to do with business. He introduced himself, we made a little small talk and then he asked how my day was.

My painter asked about my day.

It was a small thing, but for some reason it meant a lot. He didn’t just jump into the details of the job, ask me about pricing or show off what he’d done – fallen off the ladder, I had come to find out later. At any rate, he took the time to make things just a little bit more personal than immediately professional, and after a long day, I appreciated the effort.

My point isn’t to talk about home improvements, but rather retail improvements. If you work in the store, it’s probably safe to say that you go to the same location each day. The familiarity of routine can make it easy to forget that many of the people you encounter during that day – your shoppers – are seeing things for the first time.

Everything in your store is new, is exciting and – lucky for you – is for sale. So ask a question, get to know the customer and, if nothing else, improve their day.

We asked a question about selling U.S.-made products this issue, and you can read the feature is on page 60. It came as no surprise that the majority of retailers take pride in offering American-made goods when available. While that may not always be an option, I do think that it’s becoming a more important issue, and one that companies are taking into consideration when planning production. If nothing else, the question (hopefully) got people thinking about it a bit more.

And it got some people taking action, such as Tammy Myers of the American Civil War Museum/Gettysburg Gift Center. She sent me an e-mail in which she replied that in response to my inquiry, she “conducted an inventory and determined that approximately half of our merchandise is 100 percent American-made, with another 25 percent of the items a hybrid of both U.S. and import goods and services.”

They pride themselves on offering American-made museum quality products at affordable prices, and she shared that had she not created an “inventory” for me, she would not have realized the great marketing opportunity she has “failed to capitalize upon.”

Whatever it is that sets your store apart, whatever it is that is important to your guests, whatever it is that can improve that retail environment – that’s what you need to focus on. A new perspective can be like a new coat of paint – without the danger of falling.

So, how was your day?

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