Good day, Gladys, I am very worried about the future of my gift shop, located in a shopping mall. Several weeks ago a much larger mall opened about 20 miles away . Since that time my business has slowed down a lot. It seems like everyone is rushing off to the bigger and better mall. It is time for me to buy for the holiday shopping season and I am worried that business will not return. I have seen other small businesses go under when giants move into their areas. I am very nervous about how things are going. What would you do in my situation? — D.Y.
It was Job who said, "The thing I greatly feared has come upon me. And what I dreaded has happened to me." If you continue stressing yourself out and fretting over what hasn't happened, you, too, might find yourself in Job's position. Take time for an attitude adjustment and take a more positive viewpoint. And then deal with the situation head on.
How do you know for certain that your customers are shopping for gifts at the new mall? After all, it's practically summer . It's possible they are vacationing or just enjoying the nice weather.
But even if you discover that your customers are checking out the new mall that does not mean they're planning to desert you. It is perfectly normal for people to take a peek at new stores and shopping centers. And just because customers visit a new place is no indication that you will lose them permanently.
I have watched a situation here in my area. For years both Borders Books and Barnes & Noble have been the giants in the shopping malls across from each other. One day a bookstore a fraction of the size of those two moved directly across the street into a small shopping area. Carrying the memorable name Half-Price Books, this new bookstore managed to do a good business despite the high-powered competition . So, here we are today: Borders Books is gone, Barnes and Noble remains, and that little bookstore is doing a booming business.
That brings me to my next point. Instead of pushing your panic button, take time to think of creative ways generally to keep your customers coming back. I would recommend that you talk with other gift shop owners. Visit their websites to see some of the creative things they might be doing to stimulate business. Then take time to write to some of them asking for ideas and suggestions for business development. Don't be shy about it!
Retailers both large and small have to continue to do innovative and creative things to get customers in the door and to keep them coming back. For instance, I have relatives who regularly attend classes offered by both Home Depot and Lowe's in home remodeling and repair. Bookstores offer family entertainment and concerts; clothing stores have fashion shows and contests; a local coffee shop has jazz concerts in its courtyard.
Don't be afraid of competition. Sometimes it takes a new store or shopping plaza or mall to awaken a small business owner. Get busy and make your store the place to go.