What makes a happy retailer? Some cognac in your coffee in the morning? Would a 10% up tick in sales do it? How about finding a new merchandise line that no one in town has? Would having all of your crew show up on time dressed with style, and eager to greet the customers do it?

There’s really only one thing that can make a retailer happy and that’s a store that is continuously profitable. Now just because you’re profitable doesn’t mean there won’t be constant fires to put out, people that don’t show up, unhappy customers, problems with the merchandise, etc, etc, etc. But when your store is profitable (not on paper, but in the bank), you have the time and inclination to be ready for and to take charge of those daily fires.

Profitability does not depend on sales. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely in favor of maximizing sales and would encourage every retailer to keep trying new ways to attract, nurture and satisfy customers. Profitability hinges on the buying.

So many retailers look at buying as something they need to get out of the way so they can get back to selling. They short cut trade shows and only spend the minimum time, usually just going to see a few favored vendors. Buying should be the most labor-intensive part of any retailer’s job. Every trade show available should be attended. And worked from opening until the show closes.

Show floors should be seen from one end to the other before orders are written. Miles of shoe leather must be left on those carpeted cement floors. Before going to a show, the successful retailer will have a plan, a solid open to buy plan based on anticipated sales and desired turn rates. Only when an open to buy plan is developed and continuously revised will a retailer be ready to start looking at merchandise.

So have your open to buy plan and then see everything before you buy anything. When you do, you’ll always make money and you’ll definitely be a happy retailer.


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