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Is Your Store Obsolete? Are the Products Fresh and Vibrant?

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        One of our consultants was in the Upper Rocky Mountains this past week.  He went into a town where a variety store had a sign that said, “50% off– Going Out of Business” posted in the window.  Interested in what was going on, our consultant walked into the store.
         Here is what he found.  An elderly couple, probably in their late 70’s, trying to sell the remaining merchandise from their store.  The couple said that they had been in business for 46 years, in the little town, but were tired and wanted to sell the store.
         What was in the store that was worth selling?  Well, not much— even though the store appeared to be “full.”
          OK, what do you mean?  Well, the merchandise was obsolete– old watch bands– when was the last time you put a band on a watch?  Nobody under 40 wears a watch today, they use the smart phone.  Paints, models, puzzles, paper crafts, colored pencils, fabric (probably to make quilts with– even though there was a quilt store down the street 4 doors).
          Sadly, the times had overtaken this small retail store.  Sure, 40 years ago, the store was a going concern and fulfilled a need.  The owner’s wife, manning the cash register said that the “big box stores” and on-line had ruined this store.  Well, that may be, however, what also ruined the store was a building full of obsolete merchandise that nobody no longer needs, wants or uses.  Sure, technology and the modern times also played a role in this store’s demise, however, at the end of the day, nothing in the store was of value.
          Who will buy this merchandise asked our consultant?  Well, we’ll just give it away was the answer of the owner.  Really?  Well, the real answer was that not many people would want, need or use much of the merchandise. Oh, maybe a Sunday School class– however, if not the art and craft supplies, not much else was of value in today’s modern times.
            Pay strict attention to the world around you.  If you are in business and find that sales are decreasing every year– DO SOMETHING– ANYTHING so that you do not find yourself like these business owners did.
            Many small business owners think that their retirement will be funded by the sale of the store.  In this case, the little town was dying– the building was not worth much and the inventory had probably been depreciated to the point of no value.
            Don’t find yourself in a no win situation.  It is better to make a tough decision early and suffer some consequences, then find yourself in a corner and unable to do anything and have to accept whatever the world gives you.
            Stay abreast of changes in your industry.  Read the trade press and see what others in your sales vertical are doing.  If you are not doing the same thing, then perhaps, you need to think about why not.
            Now may be the time for a consulting engagement.  The fee that you spend may be returned many fold if changes are made when you have that opportunity.  Remember, it is better to make a change now when you have a chance, then wait and be forced to make no decision later.

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