Winter 2018
A New Year’s checklist for retailers By Tommy Brown

Get ready for a successful year with these tips from Tommy Brown of the Saint Louis Zoo.

Another year down with the next on the horizon, and that means it is time to do some yearly retail preparation. As retail managers and buyers we are always on the move but it is important to take time in January and do some basics we sometimes forget.

Here are some suggestions for your New Year:

  1. Have a vision and a commitment. You must take the time to know and understand what the vision is for your retail location(s) and how you are part of that vision. You must also make a commitment on paper on what you are promising your staff and the workplace for this year. Having a vison and a commitment puts you and your job in focus for the year ahead.
  2. Clean your office. It may sound basic but many people in retail seem to let things pile up and January is a new calendar year, so trash or store the papers all over your office. This starts you off with a clean slate and put you in the mindset of a “fresh start.”
  3. Make a list of retail goals for the year. If you have a written list of what is needed to accomplish, you will be more successful; but do not stop there post these goals and measure them throughout the year.
  4. See your retail location through someone else’s eyes. Walk your retail location(s) with someone that does not work in your locations and get their opinions on what they like or do not like within the shop(s). A new set of eyes and opinions keep things fresh, as sometimes other viewpoints help improve business.
  5. Have a staff party. Kick off the New Year by celebrating successes of the prior year and communicate the goals you made and ask the staff how “we” can achieve those goals.
  6. Clean up inventory. Look at what you have left in your inventory and how it performed. If it did not perform, mark it down and get rid of it. Stagnant merchandise only drains your OTB and hinders sales.
  7. Freshen up your sales floor. For many of us January is a slow time and it is a great time to move fixtures and spruce up displays. Make sure to replace old signs and deep clean the location as well, as things can get really worn and dirty throughout the summer/fall season.
  8. Evaluate manuals and policies. Look over everything you used for the prior year and decide if you need changes in the New Year. Change is good and keeping things status quo will not produce results but keep you bound to antiquity. If you still have policies on double carbon sheets used in a typewriter, you need to take the time and update.
  9. Have a “ME” day. Take one day in January and do a project that you absolutely love at work and only focus on that one project. This will help with focus and stimulate new ideas.
  10. Take a deep breath. Remember the 2018 peak season will be upon us soon but try not to stress. Just take a few deep breaths and close your eyes when you are feeling overwhelmed and do a quick mental reset. Stress is no good for you or your operation so avoid it when possible.

These 10 suggestions are here to help and make your retail year the best it can be. Best wishes for a New Year and happy selling.

Tommy Brown is retail manager/conservation buyer at the Saint Louis Zoo. He is a former board member of the Zoo & Aquarium Buyer’s Group (ZAG) and a member of the Museums & More editorial advisory board. 






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