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2

Organized Retail Theft

MRA is working with Gov. Snyder’s office to address the growing problem of organized retail crime. Page 2

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Positive Holiday Sales

A majority of Michigan retailers boosted their holiday sales by more than 5 percent, making it a good season. Page 3

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Chip Cards Coming

Payment cards with an imbedded computer chip are about to become the norm across the nation. Page 5

® February 2012 Vol. 37 No. 1

Health care reform: What law’s timeline means to business Love it or hate it, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called health care reform, is the law of the land. That is, at least until June, when the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, a key component of the law. If the court strikes down the individual mandate, the future of health care reform becomes uncertain, and it is unknown whether reforms already in place would be continued. While the court weighs the issues, however, business owners need to be aware of the changes that have occurred and what is on the horizon. The following timeline explains how health care reform is being implemented. Items of particular interest to small businesses are explained more thoroughly. 2010 • Small Business Tax Credit MRA members who pay at least 50 percent of their employee’s single-person health care premium and employ fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees could receive a federal health care premium tax credit of 35 percent. The average annual wage of your employees must be less than $50,000 per full-time equivalent person. The credit is available for tax years 2010 through 2013 and for any two years after that. Did you claim your health care premium tax credit last year? If not, consider filing an amended return. Be sure you claim it this year by using IRS Form 8941. Consult your accountant for more details on the tax credits. • Coverage provided to children Continued on page 4

The official publication of the Michigan Retailers Association

www.retailers.com

‘Drumbeat’ for Main Street Fairness The threat to Michigan-based retailers from out-of-state, online merchants who don’t collect state sales tax is not going away, and neither is Michigan Retailers Association’s legislative fight for Main Street Fairness, according to President and CEO James P. Hallan.

“We are keeping up a steady drumbeat for fairness,” Hallan said during a briefing for news reporters on recent developments, echoing his comments days earlier to state legislators considering legislation to close the Internet sales tax loophole and level the playing field for Michigan businesses.

MRA’s John Mayleben (standing) is a frequent speaker on topics involving credit cards and payment processing.

Mayleben becomes state’s 1st payments professional You can always find John Mayleben on the forward edge of retail payments technology. Now MRA’s senior vice president technology and new product development, he installed the Association’s first electronic terminal (a giant leap forward from the “knuckle bust-

Those planning to beat the drum in the coming weeks include a new, grassroots Michigan Main Street Leadership Council. The small group is a steering committee of local retailers that was established recently by MRA and the Stand With MainStreet coalition to work at the local level to draw attention to the issue and urge their own lawmakers to act. “Small business owners are up to the challenge of competing in this economy, but the online sales tax loophole means we also have to compete against an uneven playing field,” said steering committee member Barb Stein, a Rockford retailer who chairs the MRA Board of Directors. “Closing the loophole is about fairness, but it is also about protecting Michigan businesses and investment in our communities. It is time the legislature did the right thing by standing up for hometown job makers.” The bipartisan Michigan Main Street Fairness Act, House Bills 5004 and 5005, was introduced in late Continued on page 2

MRA strengthens legislative efforts

er” machine) in the mid-1980s. Ditto for the first PIN debit installation in the mid-’90s, the first electronic gift card solution that same decade and the first mobile (wireless) processing technology in the early 2000s. He’s come up with efficient, cost-effective electronic payments solutions for liter ally thousands of MRA members, from large and technology savvy insurance organizations, to retail furniture chains, and from highvolume wireless users to artisans selling their unique creations at art fairs. And everything in between.

Coming off landmark legislative victories reforming Michigan’s item pricing law and eliminating the Michigan Business Tax, and currently in the middle of an a g g re s s i v e c a m paign to achieve passage of Main Street Fairness legislation, MRA President and CEO William Hallan James P. Hallan has announced a reorganization to add additional resources to government affairs efforts. William Hallan, vice president and general counsel, expands his duties to include government affairs. His new title is vice president government affairs and general counsel. Wm. Hallan becomes the Association’s chief contact on legislative issues and oversees daily operations

Continued on page 5

Continued on page 2


2

Michigan Retailer

Paying more attention to organized retail theft by James P. Hallan, MRA President and Chief Executive Officer Ever since the first store opened, retail theft has been a problem. From the teenage shoplifter to the wayward employee, shrinkage happens. Unfortunately, theft is also big business for criminals now. Organized retail crime is growing and becoming more brazen. It’s severely impacting everything from businesses’ cost of goods and their bottom line to the safety of retail employees and consumers. A comprehensive study prepared in 2011 by the National Retail Federation concluded that organized retail theft rings are victimizing more and more retailers. The FBI has reported that organized rings cost U.S. consumers billions of dollars a year, and it estimates they are responsible for a 4 percent annual retail shrink rate.

Similarly, a recent GAO report to Congress indicated that professional shoplifters, known as “boosters,” are well organized and often focus on stealing multiple quantities of targeted items so that they can be resold to fences. Some of their tactics include wearing special clothing to avoid sensor alarms. In many instances, the professionals have also developed sophisticated reselling channels to finance other criminal activities. In addition, many of the stolen items surface again in the marketplace. This is concerning, since many of the stolen items are improperly stored and handled, affecting the safety of the product and the health of an eventual purchaser. Items such as over-the-counter medications,

infant formula, perishable food and pharmaceuticals items are particularly susceptible. While the problem is growing, law enforcement has been left with a patchwork of antiqued laws that makes prosecution difficult. Long a concern of the retail community, the issue has now drawn the sharp attention of Governor Rick Snyder, and we’re pleased to report that Michigan Retailers is working closely with his administration to make sure the proper enforcement tools are available. This is good news for consumers, law enforcement and the retail community. Paying greater attention to this problem now can help prevent everyone from paying more later as victims of organized retail crime.

of the government affairs unit. He takes over from Vice President of Government Affairs Eric Rule, who left MRA in early February to become a partner in an existing Lansing-based multi-client lobbying firm. The reorganization includes hiring Rule’s firm, Capitol Strategies Group, for additional lobbying strength. Plans also call for hiring a legislative coordinator to track legislation and issues, administer the Michigan Re-

tailers Political Action Committee and enhance member communications regarding government affairs. “These changes are designed to make our government affairs activities even more effective at this critical time in our state’s history,” said President Hallan. “Michigan is remaking itself after a decade of decline, and we want to make sure that Michigan Retailers has the strongest hand possible in

influencing decisions that shape the business community in general and the retail industry in particular for years to come.” Prior to joining Michigan Retailers in August, Wm. Hallan was a litigator with the Dykema law firm in Greater Detroit. He is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Toledo School of Law, a graduate of Denison Universtiy, and served an internship with Senator Richard Lugar in Washington, D.C.

Retail By Norm Feuti

James P. Hallan

President and CEO Michigan Retailers Association

Thomas Ungrodt

Vice Chair Ideation, Ann Arbor

Peter R. Sobelton Treasurer Birmingham

Jean Sarasin

Secretary Michigan Retailers Association

Joe Swanson Past Chair Target Corp.

Becky Beauchine Kulka

Becky Beauchine Kulka Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, Okemos

Dan Marshall

Marshall Music Company, Lansing

Orin Mazzoni, Jr.

Orin Jewelers, Garden City

Joseph McCurry

Brandon Tire & Battery, Ortonville

R.D. (Dan) Musser III

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

John Smythe Lansing

James Walsh

Meijer, Inc., Grand Rapids

D. Larry Sherman

Board Member Emeritus

Michigan Retailers Services, Inc. Board of Directors: Bo Brines Little Forks Outfitters, Midland

Brian Ducharme

Continued from page 1

The committee returned to the issue for the first time this year on February 1, approving by a 15-1 vote a resolution by Rep. Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing) urging Congress to enact a national solution to the problem. Hallan testified in support but told legislators Michigan cannot wait

Chair Great Northern Trading Co., Rockford

Larry Mullins

‘Drumbeat’ for Main Street Fairness September by Reps. Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake) and Jim Ananich (DFlint). MRA’s Hallan testified at two hearings held by the House Tax Policy Committee last fall, but the panel has not yet taken a vote on sending the bills to the House floor.

Board of Directors: Barb Stein

Credit Card Group

MRA strengthens legislative efforts Continued from page 1

www.retailers.com

for Congress, which has failed for decades to address the problem, and must act on its own to protect job makers and their employees. “The fact of the matter is that we in Michigan have the opportunity — and the obligation — to control our own destiny,” Hallan said.

AT&T

James P. Hallan Thomas B. Scott Publisher

Editor

Pat Kerwin

Design Manager

Publication Office: 603 South Washington Avenue Lansing, MI 48933 517.372.5656 or 800.366.3699 Fax: 517.372.1303 www.retailers.com www.retailersmutual.com

Subscriptions:

Michigan Retailer (USPS 345-780, ISSN 0889-0439) is published in February, April, June, August, October and December for $20 per year by Michigan Retailers Association, 603 South Washington Ave., Lansing, MI 48933. Subscription fees are automatically included in the Michigan Retailers Asociation membership dues. Periodical postage paid at Lansing, Michigan. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to 603 South Washington Ave., Lansing, MI 48933. The Michigan Retailer may be recycled with other white office paper.


February 2012

3

MICHIGAN RETAIL INDEX

Holiday sales climb for most Michigan retailers tailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 35 percent recorded declines and 22 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 59.1, down from 63.2 in November but up from 58.3 in October. The Index gauges the performance of the state’s overall retail industry, based on monthly surveys conducted by MRA and the Federal Reserve.

Current

Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity. Looking forward, 46 percent of retailers expect sales during January–March to increase over the same period last year, while 18 percent project a decrease and 36 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 71.8, down from 75.8 in November.

3-Month

10 -11

Performance Index

09-10

80

70

70

60

60

50

50

40

40

30

30

Sales tax receipts totaled $598.4 million in December, a 1.3 percent increase from the prior year. Complete results of this month’s Michigan Retail Index—including data on sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring—are available at www. retailers.com/mra/news/michiganretail-index.html. The website includes figures dating back to July 1994.

10-11

Outlook Index

80

09-10

2010

2011

700 600 570

500

570 569

591 598

Nov

Dec

485

400 300

DEC

NOV

OCT

SEP

AUG

JUL

JUN

MAY

APR

MAR

FEB

JAN

DEC

NOV

OCT

SEP AUG

JUL

JUN

MAY

APR

MAR

JAN

FEB

Two-thirds of Michigan retailers rang up better holiday sales, with most retailers boosting sales by more than 5 percent, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. “It was a good holiday season, and the second consecutive year of positive holiday results,” said MRA’s Tom Scott, senior vice president, communications and marketing. “Sales were strongest early in the season and remained positive throughout — we would have been surprised if the final numbers had been different than they turned out.” Michigan retailers went into the season more bullish than national forecasts. On average, the state’s retailers projected a 6 percent gain over the previous year. While the final average was a 4 percent gain, 53 percent of retailers improved sales by more than 5 percent, and 13 percent by 0.1 to 5 percent. Nationally, the U.S. Commerce Department said sales rose by 0.4 percent in November and 0.1 in December. The National Retail Federation said a narrower category it defined as “holiday sales” grew by 4.1 percent. The Michigan Retail Index for December found that 43 percent of re-

Seasonally adjusted diffusion index, calculated by adding the percent of respondents indicating increased sales and half the percent indicating no change, and then seasonally adjusting the result using the U.S. Census Bureau’s X-11 Seasonal Adjustment procedure. Index values above 50 generally indicate an increase in activity, while values below 50 indicate a decrease.

200 (millions)

Oct

Be sure to complete your online survey each month!


46

Michigan Retailer

www.retailers.com

Health care reform: What new federal law’s timeline means to businesses Continued from page 1

up to age 26 • Preventive wellness services covered without deductibles or copays The list of covered ser vices continues to grow. It includes routine immunizations for children, adolescents and adults, and various screening test such as colonoscopies and mammograms. • Lifetime dollar limits eliminated • Restrictions established on annual dollar limits for “essential benefits” — which are still being defined. 2011 • Various Medicare and Medicare Advantage changes implemented • Elimination of pre-existing-condition limitations for children under 19 • Over -the-counter drugs are no longer eligible for reimbursements through Flexible Spending Accounts. • Annual limit on essential benefits set at $1.25 million for plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2011, but before Sept. 23, 2012. 2012 • Women’s preventive health services are added to the cost-free Preventive Wellness services for plan years beginning on or after Aug. 1, 2012. Included are well-woman visits,

FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling, breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling, and domestic violence screening and counseling. • Annual limit on essential benefits is set at $2 million for plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2012, but before Jan. 1, 2014. 2013 • Beginning with the 2012 tax year, employers that issue 250 or more W-2 Forms must report the aggregate cost of employer-sponsored group health coverage on employees’ W-2 Forms. The cost must be reported beginning with the 2012 W-2 Forms, which are issued in January 2013. This is postponed for employers of fewer than 250 people. Reporting is for informational purposes only — it does not affect the taxability of benefits. • Medicare payroll tax increases by 0.9 percent to 2.35 percent on earnings over $200,000 for an individual or $250,000 for married couples filing jointly. • $2,500 cap on salary-reduction contributions for health Flexible Spending Accounts. • $1 per cover ed life “com-

parative ef fectiveness” fee implemented, to be paid by the health insurance issuer for insured plans. If a plan is self-funded, the plan sponsor, which is usually the employer, must pay this fee. For plans ending in fiscal 2014, the fee is $2 per average number of covered lives, and is indexed thereafter through 2019 when it expires. 2014 • Individual mandate takes effect Jan. 1. All U.S. citizens and legal residents must have “minimum essential coverage” or pay a tax penalty. The penalty escalates between 2014 and 2016, when it settles at the greater of $695 per person per year, up to $2,085 per family, or 2.5 percent of household income. Very low-income citizens may qualify for a waiver. • Employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees that do not provide their full-time employees (working more than 30 hours per week) and their dependents with affordable minimum essential health insurance coverage may have to pay an excise tax. The tax is between $2,000 and $3,000 annually per employee. • Employees whose shar e of

premium cost exceeds 9.5 percent of his/her household income, or whose employer-provided coverage does not pay for 60 percent of the expected benefit costs, can access a premium tax credit and purchase insurance on the state or federal insurance exchange. • Health insurance exchanges will offer four tiers of coverage for individuals and small groups. Reduced cost sharing applies to individuals with incomes between 138 and 400 percent of federal poverty level. • Wellness discounts of up to 30 percent of the cost of coverage can be offered to employees for participating in certain wellness programs. • Medicaid eligibility is expanded to all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 138 percent of federal poverty level. • Waiting periods longer than 90 days are prohibited. 2018 • 40 percent excise tax on “Cadillac” health plans that cost more than $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families, including employer contributions to health savings accounts or health reimbursement arrangements.


February 2012

5

RETAIL TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Get ready for ‘chip cards’ John Mayleben CPP, is MRA senior vice president technology and new product development and a national expert on electronic payment processing. He is the first person in Michigan and among the first in the nation to receive the Certified Payments Professional designation from the national Electronic Transactions Association. When it comes to credit, debit and other electronic payment cards, the good ’ol technology-savvy U.S. actually has been quite backward. For years, the rest of the world has moved from the traditional, old-fashioned, mag stripe (that black, magnetic stripe on the back of a credit card) to a

way a merchant processes a transaction. A chip card is “dipped,” not swiped, through a terminal and has to be left inserted in the terminal during the transaction. Once a transaction has been processed, either a signature or a PIN number is required to complete it. Currently, transactions in the rest of the world are handled with a PIN number, but at this point the card networks in the U.S. have not announced whether a PIN number will be the standard here. To q u a l i f y f o r the shift in chargeback liability and to be able to process these new cards, merchants will need to either add a peripheral device to their terminals or, in some cases, upgrade their credit card devices. Once all these coming changes are solidified, your merchant-processing provider should be communicating with you about choices available to you. If you have questions, you should contact your merchant processing help desk.

“The offer of a ‘get out of chargeback liability free card’ is a pretty big carrot to wave in front of merchants...” more secure solution that involves a small computer chip imbedded under the surface of the card. This evolution has left only the U.S. (and most of its territories) as the remaining holdout. And not only is the U.S. out of step, its delay has made our part of the world a bigger target for fraud artists. Because the chip cards are harder to counterfeit, the bad guys have been “pushed” toward cards over here. But all that is about to change. Visa recently changed its policy on “chip” or EMV cards here in the United States, and it impacts merchants in a big way. (EMV stands for “Europay, MasterCard, Visa” and is the standard that was adopted for chip cards.) Visa announced that effective July 1, 2015, any merchant that processes at least 75 percent of its transactions through a terminal that is EMV (both contact and contactless) compliant will be able to shift chargeback liability back to the issuing bank if that bank does not issue chip cards. As most merchants know, the majority of the chargeback risk today is borne by the retailer. So the offer of a “get out of chargeback liability free card” is a pretty big carrot to wave in front of merchants and a huge incentive for moving them to accept EMV cards. The assumption with this sea change, of course, is that issuing banks will move quickly toward issuing new cards with the EMV chip embedded in them. The new cards will change the

Mayleben: state’s 1st payments pro Continued from page 1

So it came as no surprise when Mayleben recently became the first person in Michigan and part of the first group in the nation to receive the designation of Certified Payments Professional. The certification from the Electronic Transactions Association, headquartered in Washington, D.C., recognizes Mayleben’s professionalism and expertise in the increasingly complex arena of credit card processing and other electronic payments systems. It also distinguishes him — and MRA — from the crowd of credit card processing salesmen and processing businesses that are, let’s just say, less professional. “It’s true, I love technology,” said Mayleben, whose first job out of college was signing up MRA members for credit card processing and other services. “But more important than the technology itself is the way we harness it to improve our members’ business operations and increase their profits.” Mayleben oversees day-to-day operation of MRA’s nationally recognized credit card processing program, which has members and clients in more than 30 states and annual volume approaching $1 billion. The program provides processing solutions for all types and sizes of business. “Our expertise and professionalism have been the foundation

of our processing service for more than 40 years, so it’s no surprise MRA stands out even more by having the first Certified Payments Professional in Michigan,” said MRA Board Chair Barb Stein. “John Mayleben exemplifies MRA’s commitment to using our expertise to benefit our members.” Mayleben joined MRA in 1986 as a regional marketing representative after graduating from Western Michigan University with a business degree. He served as director of marketing and sales, and then as a vice president before taking on his current title in 2009. He is extremely active within the merchant processing industry, speaking to organizations throughout Michigan and across the nation. He also served on the Retailers Advisory Group for the State of Michigan’s Electronic Benefits Transfer Program. A Whitmore Lake resident, Mayleben also serves on the Whitmore Lake Public Schools Board of Education, the Northfield Township Planning Commission and the Northfield Township Public Safety Committee. “It’s fun to have the opportunity to keep building my knowledge about the ever-changing world of electronic payments and to be able to use it for the benefit of our members,” he said. “I enjoy a challenge and love serving as a resource for solving members’ problems and answering their questions. It’s why I’m here.”


6

Michigan Retailer

LOTTERY

Lottery posts strong year by M. Scott Bowen, Commissioner Once again, the Michigan Lottery has completed another highly successful year. First and foremost, as mandated by law, is our contribution to the School Aid Fund, which provides funding for all public K-12 education in Michigan. In Fiscal Year 2011, the Lottery contributed $727.3 million to the fund. This contribution represents 100 percent of the Lottery’s profits. When you sell a Lottery ticket, know that all of the profit from that ticket will be helping public education. The FY 11 contribution brought the total funds raised by the Lottery since its inception in 1972 to assist public education to over $16 billion! Note that we refer to our contribution as assisting public education. There is no argument that $727.3 million is an enormous amount of money; it seems like it should take care of just about any expense you

could come up with. Remember, though, that the state does not fund one or two school districts. If that were the case, the $727.3 million would go a long way. In fact, the state is funding every K-12 school in Michigan and spends over $12 billion a year to do so. As you can see, the Lottery’s portion, while very important, clearly cannot take care of all the needs. Let’s rewind to how we closed out the year with the $727.3 million for schools. Our sales total was an excellent $2.34 billion, making FY 2011 the seventh consecutive year we surpassed $2 billion. From that sales total we must pay our expenses. The biggest outflow of money — 57.5 percent of sales — is paid in prize money. Lottery players won a whopping $1.34 billion. This was the eighth consecutive year in which players won more than $1 billion. Our other major expense, which of course directly impacts you, is commissions paid to retailers. In FY 2011, commissions were $168.4 million, marking the seventh consecutive year commissions exceeded $150 million. Without you, our 10,000-plus part-

www.retailers.com

Membership Services Corner Quick notes on key services. Call 800.366.3699 for details. Credit Card Processing • These terminals are no longer PCI compliant: Zon Jr, Tranz, Omni and Hypercom T7P. Call customer service to discuss upgrade options. • Your terminal can support your store policy to reduce customer disputes. Call to inquire about Footer Lines. • Credit card fraud is on the rise. Call to verify any suspicious email, phone or Internet orders you receive, inners, our business simply would not exist. We are grateful to you for the very critical role you play. So, like you, once our bills are paid, we have our profit. And that is what makes up the contribution to the School Aid Fund. Schools win, players win, and retailers win. Thank you again for another successful year! Over 95 cents of every dollar spent on Lottery tickets is returned to the state in the form of contributions to the state School Aid Fund, prizes to players and commissions to retailers. Since its inception in 1972, the Lottery has contributed over $16 billion to education in Michigan.

cluding shipping out of the country, wiring money or paying a third party. Never wire money. Retailers Mutual • If you have been asked to provide information on your 2011 payroll year, please complete the form and return it as soon as possible or provide the auditor with the necessary information. Health Insurance • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has mailed a Rate Renewal Certificate to all of our groups. The form needs to be completed within 21 days of receipt. Failure to complete it and submit a copy of the most recent Quarterly Wage Detail Report could result in a higher monthly premium amount July 1, 2012.  Social Media • Michigan Retailers would like to connect with our members through social media. Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MichiganRetailers. Post on our wall things that are happening with your business and community, because we would love to share your news with our followers.


February 2012

7

Customers are buying …but are you selling? by Steve Flaster More than ever, a retailer does not fail because of a recession. Instead, a retailer fails because he or she doesn’t adjust to changing needs and competitive situations. The following three principles appear to be critical for success in our challenging economic and competitive environment, and they largely relate to what and how you are selling: 1. You must offer more than a good physical product. Your business has to have a buzz and some turn-on that gets the customer to part with his money and enjoy doing so. You have to provide an experience. 2. You must create, maintain and nurture a selling culture. And it has to exist at all times and not just when you plan a special event or anticipate a big day. 3. You must do more than you traditionally have done. You have to take your store to new heights, exceed customer expectations, and create a new model for your type of business. Not just what you eat About a month ago, my wife and I spent the weekend in a well-known Michigan city and had dinner in two very different restaurants. On Friday night we ate at a national chain that had repositioned itself as a center for gourmet hamburgers. The place was packed with families, and I commented to my wife that between the burgers, towers of onion rings, desserts and drinks, a family of five had to be dropping at least $100. What’s more, they all seemed to be enjoying doing so. The next night we ate in a long-established Italian restaurant. The food was much better, it was much less expensive, but the restaurant was only half full. The main difference between the two restaurants was that there was no vibe, no buzz and certainly no enjoyable experience at the less expensive restaurant with better food. Customers are telling us that quality time with your family consists of more than quality food. The value of dining out must include a fun experience with exciting atmosphere, upbeat service, an original menu and staff attention to family celebrations. Why staff act differently A student in my retailing strategy class recently asked me the following astute question: Why are staff so rar-

ing to go on days like “Black Friday” but so uninspired and lackluster on other days? I thought and then answered that it was management’s fault for not creating and perpetuating a selling culture for every day the store is open. Too many sales people believe that big sales volume occurs only on days with big store traffic. This belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it does not have to be so. When I was a salesperson for Jacobson’s, some of my best sales days occurred on days when traffic was very light. It was on those days that I not only had the opportunity to maximize sales with each customer, but also get on the telephone and sell customers at their homes or offices. If sales people expect to have a poor day, they usually do. On the other hand, if selling staff are expected and taught to build their own business each and every day that the store is open, the results will be quite different both in attitude and performance. Being more During the recent recession a plethora of resale or consignment stores opened. The most recent addition to this category in the East Lansing area takes the category to a whole new level. The store combines old and new merchandise, has an exciting new-accessories department, and includes a fabulous department for furniture and home accessories. On “Black Friday” the store served refreshments all day, had trunk shows by local artisans, instituted a return policy for items bought as gifts, and gave a free newaccessory item with every purchase. All of these things were unheard of just a few years ago for this type of store, but now people are telling their friends about it. Not surprisingly, this store always appears to be busy. Of course, business is challenging, but there are customers buying. They buy where they are presented with strong, exciting experiences, where staff are always motivated and dedicated to making sales, and where the store takes itself to new, exciting levels. While we can’t control everything in our environment, there are many things we can control. More than ever we must do those things with skill and gusto for the many people who are buying. Steve Flaster is a retailer, instructor of retailing and marketing at Michigan State University, speaker and consultant. You can reach him at 517.655.6979 or srflaster@gmail.com.


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February 2012 Michigan Retailer