“Love Letters To Small Businesses” by Lora Kelley via The New York Times

“Love Letters To Small Businesses” by Lora Kelley via The New York Times

Illustrated by Broobs Small businesses make communities — whether densely populated urban areas or small towns — feel like home. It’s no secret that many businesses have been struggling over the past year. In New York City alone, almost 3,000 businesses closed between last March and August, and small businesses shed 520,000 jobs. Across the country, small businesses, from bakeries to shoe stores to day care centers, have struggled to stay afloat amid pandemic restrictions and a recession. But through these challenges, small businesses continue to touch their customers’ lives. And many patrons are more loyal than ever to the people behind these businesses. The most loved small business workers do more than sell products: They foster a sense of community. To better understand how local businesses do this, we asked our readers to tell us about a small business they love. More than 500 people wrote in to share how small businesses and their employees have offered them kindness in hard moments, brought them joy and reinforced a sense of community even during periods of isolation. Here are four grateful customers, in their own words, on the small businesses that are special to them. These accounts, drawn from interviews and submissions, have been edited and condensed. TO JEANELLAND DERRICK MORGAN The kindshopkeepers whokeep all kindsof families in theirthoughts. FROMSUSAN WEXLER COHEN Before I had ever met Jeanell, she sent us a “cheer” package filled with superhero items for my then-infant son, Elliot. It was about eight years ago, and she heard that Elliot had a rare medical condition through a friend of our family who went into the store she...
“Why you need to make Online Reviews a focus in 2021” by Shannon Blake of Podium

“Why you need to make Online Reviews a focus in 2021” by Shannon Blake of Podium

Reviews can be make-or-break for any business, and that’s never been more true than it is in 2021. But what do customers care about most? Is it simply just a good star rating? Is it worth your time to respond to reviews? And what makes customers more likely to leave reviews?We surveyed 2,376 people (1,543 consumers, 455 SMB owners/managers, 378 enterprise business leaders) to better understand the role reviews play in 2021. Learn what we found in our 2021 State of Reviews Report. If you are currently a BRA Regular or Distinguished Retail Member, you can email doug@boardretailers.org to receive the aforementioned 2021 State of Reviews Report. If you are not yet a BRA Regular (no cost) or Distinguished Retail Member, please complete the super simple join form  Shortly after it is received, we will email you the report as well as the link to access the BRA Office Depot Preferential Pricing Program. BRA note: We are very pleased to announce that Podium has joined Board Retailers Association as a BRA Supporting Vendor Partner. If you would like to be introduced via email to the solid people behind this outstanding resource, be sure to email me. – Doug Works, BRA Executive...
“Office Depot Preferential Member Pricing Program now available for all BRA Regular (no cost) and Distinguished Retail Members”

“Office Depot Preferential Member Pricing Program now available for all BRA Regular (no cost) and Distinguished Retail Members”

The Mission of Board Retailers Association is to consolidate the voices, the experiences and the visions of Board Specialty Retailers into a cohesive organization. We do this by identifying ways to lower day to day expenses, to increase profit margins and to create more remarkable customer experiences for our Retail Members. As a BRA Retail Member, you will have a voice, you will benefit from BRA relationships and you will have access to a number of BRA programs and resources including the new Office Depot Exclusive Preferential BRA Member Pricing Program. The image below elaborates on this outstanding Member Benefit, which is available to both Regular (no cost) and Distinguished Retail Members. If you are interested in improving your business, click on the following link to learn about both BRA Retail Membership options: https://www.boardretailers.org/retail-membership/ Soon after you complete the following super simple join form, we will email you the link to gain access to this rad program and begin saving on over 20,000 Office Depot Products and Services: https://www.boardretailers.org/join-bra/ #boardretailersassociation...
“How Retailers Will Thrive in 2021, According to 11 Experts” courtesy of Heartland Retail (BRA Supporting Vendor Partner)

“How Retailers Will Thrive in 2021, According to 11 Experts” courtesy of Heartland Retail (BRA Supporting Vendor Partner)

As retailers reflect on the last 12 months of the rollercoaster the industry rode—er, might still be riding—you can’t help but chuckle at some of the predictions made for 2020. Curiously enough, while few forecasted the actual impact of COVID-19, many themes still held up. Were we right about the continued rise of D2C brands investing in storefronts? Not quite. The emphasis on unique in-store experiences and community events? A little off the mark. Yet a call for deliberate and frictionless customer convenience? Nailed it. Amenities like curbside pick-up and BOPIS/BORIS, same-day delivery, contactless payments, mobile wallets and virtual shopping appointments ended up carrying more weight than many could have fathomed. These pivots, quite literally, saved retail businesses across the country. Though it’s likely to be a number of months before the world returns to what we once knew as “normal,” a shift in the direction of normalcy is on the horizon. What does that mean for retail in the new year, and will any of 2020’s themes carry over? We spoke with 11 retail industry experts—all Heartland partners—about what they think is in store for 2021, and what retailers must do to meet the trends that customer expectations are driving. A “Phygital” Experience Nico Cabral, Director of Marketing at Management One For the first half of 2021, consumers will still be wary of the high-contact, pre-COVID retail environments they once enjoyed. Retailers need to leverage their newfound savvy in the digital world and begin to blend it into their physical environments. This doesn’t require a massive investment in big, flashy in-store tech equipment—it could be as simple as a scannable QR...
“How to Conquer Your Selling Fears” by Bob Phibbs (The Retail Doctor)

“How to Conquer Your Selling Fears” by Bob Phibbs (The Retail Doctor)

I was talking to a pool builder who had just put in a new pool. His client lived in a very expensive neighborhood, drove a Bentley; you get the picture. A few months later the client’s neighbor installed a pool … from a different pool builder. The Bentley guy went to his neighbor’s party and saw his pool; it had all the bells and whistles, a salt water chlorinator, fiber optic lights, and an automatic pool cover. He drove back to his builder and asked why he didn’t show him all the possibilities. I was afraid I would price myself out of the sale, he replied. Fear… It’s what keeps people stuck, particularly in selling.  Fear is a reaction to a perceived threat; in this case, the possibility that the sale could have blown up in his face. That fear blindsided him to the upside potential. So many retail salespeople power through the rote features of their luxury watch, or their gee-wiz electronics, or their energy-efficient appliances, that they can appear brain-dead. I know when I first started working retail, a customer was only something I had to close, they were not a person, they were just a sale to be made. That approach to sales is the antithesis of what is needed to overcome fear. And that’s not just the salesperson’s fear of rejection but the customer’s as well. One of the best ways to overcome fear is to be creative The death of creativity and imagination are at the heart of low sales in retail shops around the world. Some think technology is the answer … not me. We have to find...
“Retail 2021 E commerce in the New Normal” Webinar (on-demand) via Management One Retail

“Retail 2021 E commerce in the New Normal” Webinar (on-demand) via Management One Retail

Click on the video below for a free, on-demand discussion with Josh Orr of Streamline Retail as we talk through the ways retailers are successfully using e-commerce to reach more of their “perfect customers” and how they keep them coming back again and again. The changes in 2020 forever altered retail. What was once a “nice to have”, e-commerce has become an expectation now for brick and mortar retailers. But how can you stand out in such a crowded market? We’ll dive into the practical ways brick and mortar retailers can leverage e-commerce to stay connected to their customers, drive in-store foot traffic and increase revenue. BRA note: We are very pleased to mention that Management One has joined Board Retailers Association as a BRA Supporting Vendor Partner. If you would like to be introduced via email to the solid people behind this outstanding resource, email me. – Doug Works, BRA Executive Director If you are not yet a BRA Retail Member, you can easily opt in to either Regular (no cost) or Distinguished ($99/yr.) Membership via this super simple join...