By Eliana Barriga
Publisher and Managing Editor for The Retail Observer
It's that time of year again when the seasons have changed; warm sweaters, hats, and gloves have come out of storage. Final winter preparations are being wrapped up as the holidays are fast approaching. November is the month for me to check in on my "Attitude of Gratitude" meter. It's the time of year when the Debbie Downers and Gloomy Garths of the world verbalize their negativity more than usual, as the festivities of the holidays can trigger and throw them into a tailspin. That's where the practice of gratitude is a huge plus. It is the most important ingredient in life itself for health, happiness, and the success of our businesses.
Fact: gratitude is actually a learned behavior. It is something that we can be taught, practice, and get better at over time. In addition, gratitude boosts our self-esteem and strengthens our resiliency, giving us a mental advantage in dealing with stressful situations.
I personally use many ways to track and tune into what I am grateful for in my life. I have a jar that I fill all year long with notes of gratitude that I read and reflect upon on New Year's Eve. I also have a journal in which I write my "3 Gratitudes" every morning to start my day.
My personal favorite this time of year is the Gratitude Tree. I arrange twigs in a jar, and cut leaf shapes out of fall-colored paper. I then ask friends and family to write the things they are grateful for on the leaves, which they hang on the tree. Not only is it a beautiful fall display, but it’s wonderful to share in others’ rich, heartfelt thanks for the things and people that truly matter to them. These experiences make such a difference in our lives. The leaves from the Gratitude Tree can be read aloud at Thanksgiving dinner, too.
In this way, gratitude helps us keep our perspective on the many things we find hard to deal with in our crazy world today. So use every chance you get to become thankful and celebrate life with friends and family—not only this Thanksgiving but all year long.
Forever and always grateful,
By Moe Lastfogel
Director of Sales and Marketing for The Retail Observer
The end of an era creates opportunities for the independent retailer
Sears, the once-dominant retail chain that changed how Americans shopped and lived, has finally filed for bankruptcy. The 132-year-old company has been struggling for several years and has been drowning in debt. The final straw was a $134 million debt payment that wasn’t feasible for Sears to repay.
Sears was once the nation's largest retailer and its largest employer. In its heyday, it was both the Walmart and Amazon of its time. Formed in 1886 by railroad station agent Richard Sears, the company started as a watch business in North Redwood, Minnesota. Sears stores helped reshape America, drawing shoppers away from the traditional Main Street merchants. Its Kenmore appliances brand introduced many Americans to labor-saving devices that changed family dynamics. Its Craftsman tools and their lifetime guarantees were a mainstay of middle-class America.
Whirlpool (which had started in business more than a century ago selling its appliances at Sears) pulled its various brands out of Sears and Kmart stores last year. Once the dominant appliance retailer in the country, Sears accounted for only 3% of Whirlpool's sales worldwide in 2017.
With 142 more stores closing, this is a substantial opportunity for you as a retailer to pick up their newly available business in your territory. Not only will there be sales opportunities, but many employees will become available to you. Sales staff, office staff, warehouse, and delivery personnel will be looking for employment. Sears has always been known to have a well-trained staff, and this means minimal training on your part. I assume liquidation of inventory, vehicles, and store fixtures will also be available to you. And of course, there will be plenty of buildings available if any of you are looking to expand your business.
I myself am an ex-Sears employee. I worked for their specialty appliance division, McPhails, now known as Monark. As of this writing, it’s hard to predict what Monark’s fate will be. Iwishthemmuchluckinfindingasuitablebuyer for their group, as they have great locations and amazing staffs.
Good luck, my friends--