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Furniture Retail Tip #7 From Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90 - Honk If You Are A Furniture Retailer

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Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e at 90)

A "Retailer" is a one-person, creative team. You think up a retail show, create a retail script, put all the parts together on your stage, raise the curtain to present your bright-light creations and then anxiously wait for applause from fussy strangers. It's a lonesome shtick that takes singular discipline, continuous dedication and a prayer.

And it seems from "ancient" records, that summer is the time and setting for such recorded undertakings. Fresh outdoor air and seemingly longer hours in the Daylight Saving Time work day seem to tug for change in the cold winter and indoor settings by the fireplace. Young couples declare their love for one another at dedicated wedding ceremonies and follow up with careful planning of new styles in joint living. And on the other hand, older "single" widows and widowers scout "assisted living" apartments hoping to find new comfort living and improved health apartments they've saved up to afford. And after the "kids" of the rest of us are shipped off to summer camps and foreign language scenery, hard working parents meander through antique furniture collections at country fairs and New England warehouse garages.

And as Barbra sings on an old CD you play in your new all-electric yellow roadster: "People.. .people who need people are the luckiest people in the world...." or when my old buddy, Dino, croons : "Everybody needs somebody sometime..." are the one-person, creative "Retailers" listening? All the seasoned gals and guys plus the retailing new little ones.'

Are they realizing that by pooling their new year needs; airing their style choice problems; sharing their marketing successes and disappointments and then flying along together - their mutual goals can become more attainable. Attainable meaning more realistic, less frustrating and perhaps, perhaps more profitable. Wow-e-e!

What brought all this to Grandpa Mike-e-e's 90 year old mind? Well, I'll tell you: A story I once quoted about geese when I was only a kid of seventy-five:

As a goose flaps its wings, the motion creates an uplift draft for birds that follow. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock increases its flying range by 70%.

If a goose suddenly falls out of formation, it quickly feels the drag and pops right back in to take advantage of the power of those in front. And when the lead goose gets tired, it has the innate sense to rotate to the rear, and another bird volunteers to fly lead.

The geese in the rear cheer their leaders by honking out loudly, thereby letting those leading know they are scooting along at a bearable pace.

When a goose gets sick or shot, two of his or her buddies follow their pal down to see what they can do to help. They stay around until he or she is able to wing it again or, unfortunately, dies.

Having shown their concern, they then zoom up to catch the old gang or find a new formation.

Is this beautiful story for the birds? Uh! Uh! It's for us. And, therefore, when we have as much sense and understanding as a goose, we will seek out co-flyers that are going in the same direction so that we can all get there faster and in better condition. When we do fly together, we must stand by one another (in sickness, in health and in mind) and not just honk to hear ourselves honk. Rather, we must honk to let our compatriots know we appreciate where we're all going.

So, you may be thinking,  who are these compatriots I am speaking about? Well, just look up and down the street where your live (by the way, one of my favorite songs from the musical "My Fair Lady"). They are your fellow retailers of course! They are your "goose compatriots" whose "V" formation you can fly along with.

If you belong to a buying group of non-competing home furnishings stores, do some networking and pool your talents. Ask them what they would like to do, but haven't had the time or the energy to do lately. Offer to be the lead goose and help them out for a few miles. Perhaps they will do the same for you!

Or why not make the acquaintance of the travel agency down the street, the carpeting store, or the kitchen remodeling place. Even the local deli? Maybe they are looking for new clients as well. The mind boggles at the cross marketing opportunities you can think up for your junior dining sets and their pastrami sandwiches, dill pickles and knishes.

Thanks, again, for listening.
Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90

Got a question? Got a comment? Great!! E-mail: grandpamike-e-e!@furninfo.com

About Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e!)

Retailer, author, columnist, lecturer, composer and lyricist.

Came to US with immigrant parents in 1924 at the age of three.

Graduated high school at 16.

Managed a small bedding retail and manufacturing company at 18 in 1939.

Hired as Assistant to the VP of Purchasing (Sweets Corp. of America... approximately 500 employees) in 1940 at 19.

Drafted into US Army Signal Corp - Communications Personnel Div., Fort Monmouth.Tested and selected for Army Specialized Training Program, Rutgers University. Qualified for O.C.S. - Officer Candidate School and graduated as Second Lieutenant, Inventory/ Personnel Division in 1944 at 23.

Married his sweetheart, Anita, and he gives thanks to the Almighty that they are still sweethearts... after 73 years.

Rejoined Sweets Corp as Director of Personnel in 1945 at 24.

Joined his suddenly widowed sister as President of a small retail/ manufacturing company in 1946. Stayed on for 46 years managing the custom designing of over 20,000 childrens rooms and master bedroom beds.

Attended Hofstra University (evening program), and graduated in 1968 at age 47. Two of his kids followed right along at two other college campuses.

Applied for 30 day temporary columnist opening offered by the Reed Business Newspapers in NC and stayed on for 27 years. His retail columns were distributed everywhere from Brooklyn to Bangladesh, to Belgium to Beijing.

Traveled the US and visited with 3rd/ 4th generation retail owners.

He was admitted to the Writers Hall of Fame for, "Conspicuous Excellence In reports and appraisals of the furniture industry."

Retired from retail management at age 70.

BOOKS: (1) At age 72: published first book "Where's The Green Pea?" vegetable character stories including his original music and CD.

Designed programs for primary and pre-K schools and presented them with his Anita. (2) At age 76: Gee! I Wish I Had A Bedroom All My Own," lectured in middle schools (teenage), with tech info for parents, teachers and students in Home

Science. (3) At age 80: Tzedakah - Caring And Sharing classic book with original music CD and illustrations for high school chorales and drama groups.

At 89 -- published Retail Life: How To Get In, Stay Alive a-n-d Love It! in online and printed version for business schools, industry, and entrepreneurs. Includes how-to educational section for "Wise Women Who Love A Challenge" and "Oldtimer Retailers Who've Missed Some Basic Goodies In Business Promotion. Also provides business professors and career students seeking everyday practical trade experiences and business thinking.

Invited to address Levitz Furniture retail salespersons, Furniture Designer Associate members,

IHFRA sales associations, High Point University students and F.I.T. retailer evening sessions. Also accepted as an ASID associate member.

At 90 plus... is a musical playwright, composer and lyricist with original music and thinking for very young and very old America.

Grandpa Mike-e-e

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