Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e at 90
I say it once more: Most of the lovely people playing the daily game of furniture retailing think that the name of that game is selling. If you think so, too, then you're wrong, too. That was the topic of last week’s column that you can review by clicking here if you happen to have missed it.
That's because the name of the game in retailing is buying. And Super-Buying is in-depth selection of a specialty. Take a good look at pizzerias these days and you'll find a listing of pizza styling staggering -- ninety-two ways to select indigestion.
Specialty identification is the name of the game and the entrepreneurial, tiny retailer can beat any "big guy" by swamping competition with in-depth selection. You name it and somebody... some little, solo shnook... has his specialty act in a classy, highway, development center.
Recently, I spotted a specialty shop with 200 bed comforters to choose from. And, one late night after a Broadway show, our kids, zig-zagged me and my Bubilla off our home route to take a deep breath of fresh, fresh muffins. There was a line, one block long, at the front door of their target retailer in Greenwich Village. So what you snicker? Hah! The clock at the location rang "midnight" as we started to park around the corner!
And there are stores just for smokes. Shops just for chunk, chocolate bars. Chair and table shops. Clock shops. Pillow shops with hard-to-find sizes plus dozens of scattered, embroidered cushions to set off settings in bedrooms and TV room settings.
Let me digress here about how back in the 1980s I was infatuated with mica made-to-order collections in more than 100 colors and finishes for kids’ bedrooms that had no size limits. Not only that… there were no price tags on the floor samples and the finish colors could be mixed to individual customer tastes. They sold like hotcakes!
A-n-d did you know that these bedroom suites have literally lived forever in customer lifestyles? Fast forward to the year 2001 when my original customer tired of the made-to-order collection I sold them way back when. Their college-age daughter takes the dresser, mirror, double bed and one night table for her college dorm. And the next in line son follows up at his school's dorm with the remaining chest, night table and the full size set of bedding setup on a metal frame, studio style, A-n-d both kids hunt down white mica student desks as accent pieces.
Finally, in the furniture tale I am making up -- the kids marry and sell their old mica furniture to a second-hand furniture shoppe who, in turn, sells all the pieces to an antique dealer who polishes up the pieces and in-turn sells all the pieces for ten times the start-out sale price to the hip grandchildren of the original buyers, who brag to their great, grandparents about the “mica” antique pieces "buy" they just landed! Wow-e-e!
P.S. I've run out of print space otherwise I would have continued the trek of this original, specialty, bedroom group as revealed on the Channel 13, TV Antique Road Show.
Now back to my original point about making your retail business a specialist in the minds of your customers.
It all starts with buying enough of a certain category and displaying it properly. But more important -- you need to blow your own horn!
For example, if you want to become the go-to retailer in your area for American-made furniture, then don’t let a 4th of July or a President’s Day Event go by without telling your customers that you carry USA-made. Don’t be content to show a picture of the flag and 40% off. Tell them that you are the place to go to buy it and why! Don’t forget to put in the benefits and links to your supplier’s websites.
It doesn’t matter what category you pick. If you are the place to go for casual dining, then shout it loud. If you think there is a demand for roll-top desks in your area, then buy lots of them and tell the world! Remember that Super-Buying can make you THE specialist – the 100 pound gorilla in your niche.
Thanks, again, for listening.
Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90
Questions? Comments? e-mail Grandpa Mike-e-e! at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90) Columnist, Retailer, Author, Composer-Lyricist, Playwright.
- Emigrated to U.S. with parents at age 3; Graduated high school at 16; Managed a retail/manufacturer at 18.
- Joined Tootsie Rolls/Sweets Corp. of America at 19 as Assistant to V.P. Purchasing.
- Joined US Army Signal Corp-Communications; Selected for (ASTP) Army Specialized Training Program, Rutgers U. Qualified for Officer Candidate School and graduated as Second Lieutenant, Personnel Division in 1944 at 23.
- Married his sweetheart, Anita, and gives thanks to the Almighty that they are still sweethearts… after 74 years.
- Rejoined Tootsie Rolls Corp as Director of Personnel at 24 (500 employees).
- Joined widowed sister, as President of retail/manufacturing company in 1946. Stayed on for 46 years managing and custom designing over 20,000 children's rooms.
- Graduated Hofstra U (evenings) in 1968 at age 47... before all his three kids, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren graduated with their degrees.
- Answered 30 day, temporary columnist advertisement by Reed Business Newspapers (Furniture Today) and stayed on for 27 years. Columns were sold from Bangladesh to Belgium to Beijing to Brooklyn. Admitted to the Writers Hall of Fame for "Conspicuous Excellence In reports and appraisals of the Furniture Industry." Visited with 3rd/4th generation retail owners throughout the US. Retired from retail after 55 years of management.
- At age 72: Published his first hardcover book: "Where's The Green Pea?" with vegetable characters in color, original music and lyrics on cassette. Designed programs for primary and pre-K schools and presented them with Grandma Anita, his partner.
- At age 76: Published hardcover book/ with color: "Gee! I Wish I Had A Bedroom That Was All My Own" presented at middle schools with tech info for parents planning a student bedroom. Included outlines for teachers and students in Home Sciences.
- At age 80: Published hardcover book with color of unique art: "Tzedakah Of Caring and Sharing". A classic original with music for high school chorales. Ossining HS drama staged it and lona College sponsored a presentation as "American Fruit Salad".
- At age 88: Published on-line book "Retail Life: How To Get In, Stay Alive and L-o-v-e it" for college students, with versions for industry, business schools and entrepreneurs. Includes section for "Wise Women Who Love A Career Challenge", business professors and career students seeking everyday practical trade experience and business thinking .
- Invited to address retail salespersons, customers, Furniture Designer Associates ; I.H.F.R.A. sales associations, High Point U. students and F.I.T. retailer sessions.
- At Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90: Writes a weekly column for entrepreneurs, sales representatives and furniture management personnel in Furniture World - a trade publication for 140 years.
- Grandpa can't play an instrument nor read music. But you can see and hear his You Tube music video staring him with his granddaughter Becca at: http://bitly.coni/qALkrX.
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