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Furniture Retail Tip #49 From Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90... About Peddlers And Knowing The Score

Furniture World News Desk on 8/21/2012

Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90)

Have you ever sat down on a deserted island to play "20 Questions" by yourself?

You haven't? Then how are you going to discover whether you're a fish or fowl or bigger than a bread box?

A while back I was tracking through downtown Manhattan and bumped into the ultimate entrepreneur who knew who he was and what he was all about. A guy who knew the score. Right on the button.

He was seated on a wooden crate leaning against a lamppost. On the post he had hanging a lonely garment. A very lonely garment that on closer inspection turned out to be a short coat that was pinned to a lettered sign, neat and plain to read: "Entire inventory at one price.. ..$13." Loved it.

Yes, siree! Right to the point without any lead up music. No monkey business, either. The gentlemen's whole inventory consisted of one garment with a price range of distinct limits.

The garment was his total inventory, and thirteen bucks rounded out the whole price range. He knew his whole price range and his customers, knew at a glance where he was coming from and where he was going... or not going. M-m-m.

At one time I saw a classified ad in a local real estate section that explained: "Condo for sale. 2B/R, 1-1/2 baths. Gorgeous view, gorgeous carpeting . Looking for $75,000. We'll talk. We'll negotiate...but not much." Pretty plain talk. Would you buy?

So, by now I think you’ve guessed what this week’s ramblings by Grandpa Mike-e-e are all about. Yes! They are about knowing yourself as a furniture retailer, so that your customers can know you. If you know yourself, then there is a chance that customers will like you. And, there is also a chance that you can change who you are if you are not getting the share of customers you think you deserve.

There are retailers, big and small, that are like some unlucky candidates for marriage who have one foot still outside the door. They want to remain single and also want to get married, and they end up confusing their potential spouses, families, friends, etc.

There are also independent retailers out there who have been around for decades selling third and fourth generations. They know who they are. Their record is a public record that tells potential customers what they do, how they are priced, and what their value/ service proposition is. Many are in trouble these days. Some haven’t changed. Others have tried to compete with larger big box stores while hanging on to their traditional business model that comes along with a higher cost structure. Sometimes, as a furniture retailer, you can’t remain who you are and you can’t just change just a little. You have to do something else.

But whatever you decide to do, you should start out by playing "20 Questions". Then, hang out a sign. A-n-d,  the best sign a retailer can hang on his or her store lamp post is: "Welcome! Entire inventory for sale by someone who knows herself or himself and someone you know, too."

Thanks, again, for listening.
Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90

Got a question? Got a comment? Great!! E-mail: grandpamike-e-e!@furninfo.com

PS. See the YouTube music video staring me, Grandpa Mike-e-e! with my granddaughter Becca in a supporting role athttp://bitly.com/qALkrX

About Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e!)

Retailer, author, columnist, lecturer, composer and lyricist.

Came to US with immigrant parents in 1924 at the age of three.

Graduated high school at 16.

Managed a small bedding retail and manufacturing company at 18 in 1939.

Hired as Assistant to the VP of Purchasing (Sweets Corp. of America... approximately 500 employees) in 1940 at 19.

Drafted into US Army Signal Corp - Communications Personnel Div., Fort Monmouth.Tested and selected for Army Specialized Training Program, Rutgers University. Qualified for O.C.S. - Officer Candidate School and graduated as Second Lieutenant, Inventory/ Personnel Division in 1944 at 23.

Married his sweetheart, Anita, and he gives thanks to the Almighty that they are still sweethearts... after 73 years.

Rejoined Sweets Corp as Director of Personnel in 1945 at 24.

Joined his suddenly widowed sister as President of a small retail/ manufacturing company in 1946. Stayed on for 46 years managing the custom designing of over 20,000 childrens rooms and master bedroom beds.

Attended Hofstra University (evening program), and graduated in 1968 at age 47. Two of his kids followed right along at two other college campuses.

Applied for 30 day temporary columnist opening offered by the Reed Business Newspapers in NC and stayed on for 27 years. His retail columns were distributed everywhere from Brooklyn to Bangladesh, to Belgium to Beijing.

Traveled the US and visited with 3rd/ 4th generation retail owners.

He was admitted to the Writers Hall of Fame for, "Conspicuous Excellence In reports and appraisals of the furniture industry."

Retired from retail management at age 70.

BOOKS: (1) At age 72: published first book "Where's The Green Pea?" vegetable character stories including his original music and CD.

Designed programs for primary and pre-K schools and presented them with his Anita. (2) At age 76: Gee! I Wish I Had A Bedroom All My Own," lectured in middle schools (teenage), with tech info for parents, teachers and students in Home

Science. (3) At age 80: Tzedakah - Caring And Sharing classic book with original music CD and illustrations for high school chorales and drama groups.

At 89 -- published Retail Life: How To Get In, Stay Alive a-n-d Love It! in online and printed version for business schools, industry, and entrepreneurs. Includes how-to educational section for "Wise Women Who Love A Challenge" and "Oldtimer Retailers Who've Missed Some Basic Goodies In Business Promotion. Also provides business professors and career students seeking everyday practical trade experiences and business thinking.

Invited to address Levitz Furniture retail salespersons, Furniture Designer Associate members,

IHFRA sales associations, High Point University students and F.I.T. retailer evening sessions. Also accepted as an ASID associate member.

At 90 plus... is a musical playwright, composer and lyricist with original music and thinking for very young and very old America.

Grandpa Mike-e-e

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