Janine is the proud owner of a retail store located on the outskirts of the famous New Jersey shore. She sells anything from vintage clothing to vinyl records to refurbished home decorations and furniture. As a small business owner, it took Janine almost five years to learn the ins and outs of the retail business in order to own a successful store. Today, she opens her doors to give us a behind-the-scenes peek of her business.
Each corner of the sales floor represents a theme. One corner is music and another is clothing and accessories. The third corner displays home decorations and furniture. The fourth corner is a miscellaneous section that presents books, stationery, gift baskets, and more. The center of the store resembles a café, without food or drinks. She has six tables set up, where each morning she places the daily newspaper, some magazines, and any interesting books she might have just finished reading.
“When I opened up shop, I didn’t want to be ‘normal.’ I wanted a place where people can meet up to talk about the news or sports. This isn’t just a store, it’s a social setting. We don’t sell food or anything, but that doesn’t take away from the appeal,” says Janine. “With all of the social media going on, it’s refreshing to know that people are still interested in face-to-face, old-fashioned conversations.”
To learn about how to run a retail store, Janine took advice from her uncle Dan who owned a shoe store that closed after 45 years.
“Uncle Dan taught me that it takes a lot of patience and dedication to run a store. He taught me that a store owner has to take pride in how the store looks. He said that first impressions determine whether or not a customer will even come in.”
Taking that into account, Janine made sure that the storefront display stood out to potential customers. Her store sits on a street with high foot traffic. She changes the storefront display every two weeks so that it never gets dull and remains interesting.
Another piece of advice that Janine took has been valuable to her business. “Uncle Dan said that the only way a store really stays alive is if customers return and then refer their friends. Once in a while someone I don’t know will come into the store, and most likely I won’t see that person again. Loyal customers keep a business running.”
To keep customers coming back for more, Janine purchased a Zebra printer, which produces customer loyalty cards. “I actually got the idea from someone who owns a bakery. She gives every customer who comes through the door a card, and any time they come back they receive points with that card. They receive discounts when they reach a certain amount of points. I do the exact same thing here.”
Janine searched the internet for a printer to make the cards because she did not want to hire anyone to do the job for her. She chose the Zebra printer because it was small rather than bulky. “I can’t have an eye sore behind the counter. It’s little and blends right in.”
Janine says that customers with loyalty cards frequent the store the most. “Each of them gets an ID holder with their card and for some reason that makes them feel special! I guess it’s because it shows that I care about keeping their things safe. I don’t know! Many stores just give them their cards, and some don’t even make the cards themselves. They have the cards sent to their houses. I think giving them an ID holder makes it feel more personable to them. I don’t get it, but it makes my customers happy.”
Janine wants to her store to have a classic mom-and-pop feel. She refuses to have a website, and she does not do any online marketing. “I am only 25 years old, so it’s not like I don’t understand technology. I use it in my personal life. However, I still believe that stores can succeed without using the internet.”
Janine was asked if she thinks that her marketing tactics of posting flyers, running newspaper ads, and word-of-mouth are working. Her answer: “So far, so good.”