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Furniture Retail Tip #20 From Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90 - "Unused Real Estate Opportunities"

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

As I said two months ago: "Every month you rent you pay for one ceiling, four walls and one flat floor." Honest. Therefore, why have you not been merchandising this paid-for real estate like all sharp, aware entrepreneurs do?

And now there's another store I want to tell you about. It's called "The Bagel Hole" that like "The Button Shoppe" story I told in Furniture Retail Tip #12 (http://bitly.com/oMUzml), also originally paid for unused real estate: one ceiling, four walls and one flat floor but now doesn't.

"The Bagel Hole" woke up when Bill bought the bagel shoppe from Charles who in turn wanted to leave for Florida and its sunny beaches. Bill was an amateur bagel designer but not a newcomer to retail. He had done it all before in a retail furniture store. He figured that the only difference was that his former merchandise didn't have a hole in it. That is except for the time when James his warehouse manager accidently skewered an Omnia Leather sofa with a lift truck! He was an experienced retail manager... of employee relations, retail customer approach, business overhead management and fresh product choices.

It took Bill three months to shape up five factors: He knew that the store had its basic consumers and volume (the accountant saw to that} however, the overall setting needed an overhauling: fixtures with brighter lighting, inside sign-work that answered customer questions, a deeper stock variation and a paint job that would help to make service pleasant and delicious.

It took him three months to add more inviting food selection; atmosphere touchups like fresh ceiling-high lights, wall-special daily value salad-combination charts, paper napkin distribution gizmos and employees who smiled, walked the new inlaid dining floor and said "Thank You" while ringing up sales cash.

The newest addition was the rent-free, lonely, first-class, baking oven that stood dust-loaded in a lonely corner of kitchen storage paraphernalia. It was inherited from Charles who just never used it. Bill had quietly spotted it while originally casing the joint.

So what did this new eager broom do? Right! He advertised in the village's local gazette for a retired baker "with imagination" who might have two days available every week for a part-time project... baking bread and goodies. And sure as shootin' a retired, eighty-year old baker showed up with interest in keeping his wits about him and show-off a couple of his old oven tricks and new crunchy styles, twice a week.

Result? "The Bagel Hole" now not only has tantalizing bagels with holes surrounded by delicious vegetable salads but also offers a wide assortment of bakery goodies for sweet-toothed customers. Inventions like: Fresh muffins in endless coatings; daily tasty breads of pumpernickel and Panini; "pull apart" Sabbath challahs with or without raisins; itty-bitty sugar free cookie collections; bittersweet chocolate cartoon characters ; powdered doughnuts with chocolate coating and jelly centers; and after Thanksgiving, endless Christmas ho-ho diet breakers!

And most important! A refrigerated wall of milks and juices fitting the latest Internet diets prescribed by a doctor, your grandmother or the latest Internet blog athlete (male or female) who is overweight.

I tracked "The Bagel Hole", its proprietor and its paid-for ceiling, walls and floor for almost one year because Bubbila's and my podiatrist was in the same neighborhood and discovered that Bill just sold this new adventure of 12 months because that's what he always did.

Did what? Looked for retailers who every month rent and pay for one ceiling, four walls and one flat floor and don't use them.

Now, I know a few of you are saying to yourself yet again, what's the moral of this story for readers who are still in the furniture business and not yet downsized by the economy and selling bagels? It's that retail is retail. And one way to maximize your investment at retail is to make every inch of your expensive retail space count. And it doesn't matter if you own the store. It is still expensive.

Get rid of the lousy merchandise that won't sell and replace it with fresh new items. Make sure every wall, ceiling, light fixture, entrance, customer service area, POS sign,  pick-up area, parking space, floor and lavoratory is optimized for creating the best customer experience. And sometimes, if you've gotten used to your store the way it is, get a new pair of eyes to walk through with a critical eye.

Oh! I forgot to tell you. I never saw Bill behind the counter or in the kitchen he always worked in his office watching the daily computer real-estate info and the Market. The Wall Street one.

Thanks, again, for listening.

Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90

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

PS. See the new YouTube music video staring me, Grandpa Mike-e-e! with my granddaughter Becca in a supporting role at  http://bitly.com/qALkrX

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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