Wednesday, April 25, 2012


     I have waited two days before writing this rant.  I am active in promoting rural and small town economic development and small business.  And I find as I go thru the areas visiting that there is one very important business principle that is often ignored.  This is not something you need a degree in marketing for.  This should be just common sense.  But as with all common sense there are enough excusses to go around to justify something that isn't smart.  Reminds me of Washington.
     As I travel I like to stop and do business in these small businesses and help out.  Especially antique shops and thrift stores.  There are items I collect and some that I pick for others.  Nintey five percent of the time I find the shops closed.  And when I call the numbers post to come down and let you in, most of the time they are not able to, or even answer.
     A retired banker I know, that once was in the fine Antique business, I said I finally figured out how to make money in antiques.  He got excited and goes, HOW?  I said OPEN FOR BUSINESS.  It is my pet peave.  I have been to Antique stores and other businesses all over and they very seldom are open.
      DUH!  I never have figured out being in retail when the next customer shows up.  There are regulars and there are trends but basically your missing profit are those few that you miss when you don't feel like being there.  I have found that the shops that are open generally have different ways to keep the doors open and not get bored.  In one there is an ongoing pitch game and others have other business items they can spend time on.  They keep occupied.  One shop I was in the other day (the only one I found open in 3 towns) the lady was reading to a bunch of kids.  It was a good place to watch kids as well as ring up a sale now and then.
      The Kansas Travelers group, which is a part of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, ( over 5000 strong) make a hobby of day tripping around the small towns and rural areas to shop and eat.  They buy their postage from small post offices to try and keep them off the closing list.  They even went and remodeled a small cafe, to help keep it running in a small town that was one of the only gathering places left. 
     It is beyond irritating to make the effort to keep the businesses going and find them closed.  I know some are strictly hobbys, and that they will stay until they are taken seriously by the owners and the town as real businesses.
     I know many won't like me saying this, but, if your community is having problems with dwindling business, you are your own worst enemy.  All the promotions and raising the awareness of visitors of your uniquness won't work if you don't OPEN FOR BUSINESS.  OK?  No more excuses!  After you do this and there is no traffic then is the time to look at inventory, presentation, marketing, and promotion.  The most essential element in help is helping yourself.  Do the first and everyone will be there for the rest.

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