RetailingInsight WINTER MAGAZINE
Connecting the Best in Body-Mind-Spirit
Vol 32 | Issue 1 |2019 2018 Volume 33/Issue 7/ November-December
Valentineâ€™s Gifts Brick and Mortar Shops vs. E-Commerce 5 WAYS TO KEEP AN ECOFRIENDLY BUSINESS
How to Deal with Employee Theft
Journal, All for Love by PAPAYA
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In Every Issue 4 | EDITOR’S NOTE 10 | BUSINESS & MARKETING Automate your marketing hustle 24 | SHOPTALK Practical answers for tough business questions 48 | FINE PRINT Inspiring and uplifting NEW books on conscious living 50 | PLAY LIST Reviews of great music to sell and enjoy 54 | TAKE FIVE 5 Ways to keep an eco-friendly business 56 | ADVERTISER INDEX
12 COVER IMAGE: Journal, All For Love by PAPAYA (More details on page 46)
Features 6 | BRICK AND MORTAR SHOPS VS. E-COMMERCE Discover what shop owners are doing to exceed their customers’ expectations
12 | FOR GREAT HOLIDAY SALES: CREATE A MEMORABLE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Find different ways to create a sensory and experiential atmosphere in your store
18 | HOW TO DEAL WITH EMPLOYEE THEFT Learn how to identify the warming signs to prevent embezzlement in your business
26 | KEYS TO MAGICAL PORTALS Opening magical portals through divination decks
30 | MEET MY STORE: Meet the Altiplano store – a lifestyle boutique located in Vermont
32 | 15 SOUND HEALING & MEDITATION PRODUCTS TO FEATURE IN-STORES THIS HOLIDAY How to create a sacred sound space
40 | IS IT TIME TO CLOSE MY SHOP? We created an easylist to help identify if it’s time for business change or life change for you 2 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
Products 46 | EDITORS’ PICKS Gift ideas for Valentine’s Day 53 | FRESH! A galleria of NEW products
Let your spirit ta k e f L i g h t
The Charles Dickens Tarot 978-0-7643-5775-6
The Healthy Witch 978-0-7643-5790-9 As You Feel, So You Heal 978-0-7643-5783-1
Goddesses from A to Z 978-0-7643-5796-1
The Three Principles of Oneness 978-0-7643-5813-5
The Manifestation Journal 978-0-7643-5806-7
editor'snote The holly jolly season has officially begun, and I can’t believe how fast the year went by. During 2019, our team has incredibly delivered many tips for retailers from retail business to marketing, and we extensively worked on presenting new products so stores across the country could find unique product inspiration within our pages. This last issue of the year, the Winter Markets, is focused on helping retailers identify common trends and topics in the industry that can help reshape their businesses and lives. The journey begins with an interview with shop owners on Brick and Mortar Shops vs. E-Commerce. It continues when we help answer the question, “Are you creating a unique atmosphere in your shop to attract more customers?” Learn more on For Great Holiday Sales: Create a Memorable Customer Experience! Our exploration also delves into marketing, helping you to find ways to detail your strategy in our Business & Marketing section page. If you’re considering implementing green practices in your store to become more eco-friendly but don’t know how, the article 5 Ways to Keep an Eco-Friendly Business can help you identify some starting points. Our next offering shifts from going green to protect the Earth to protecting the green of your profits. Did you know that 80 percent of embezzlement on business happens with small businesses rather than big corporations? Shocking right? Co-owner of Coventry Creation, Jacki Smith, shares her personal experience with us in How to Deal with Employee Theft. And, if you’re considering closing your store for good, but you’re not quite sure if that’s the right move just yet after spending some much time and energy building it, we’ve created an easy list to help you identify and review your choices. And don’t worry. We didn’t forget another big retail holiday that’s fast approaching. Check our selection of affordable gift ideas for Valentine’s Day. Finally, if you sell decks, the review written by Melinda for this edition can provide great insight and tips on which divination decks are keys to opening magical portals. If you don’t sell decks, it might just make you reconsider! Stay connected for the next magazine issue – 2020 Retail Trends, covering trend topics on retail, a new list of wholesalers in the body-mind-spirit market, and more. I hope you have an insightful year ahead of you! See you back in 2020!
Roberta Gazzarolle Roberta Gazzarolle, Editor, Retailing Insight Magazine
Editor’s Note – Footnote
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retailing insight magazine is published exclusively for independent retailers of unique and meaningful products for the body, mind, and spirit. Our purpose is to nurture retail store success by providing excellent business advice, honest product reviews, advertisements from leading wholesale companies, and outstanding coverage of the dynamic body, mind, and spirit market.
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Retailing Insight Magazine
Brick and Mortar Shops vs.
E-Commerce By Hilary Daninhirsch
6 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
rick and mortar shops are competing with a fierce opponent: the internet. It’s hard to beat the convenience of a shopping experience that simply involves scrolling and clicking. However, brick and mortar stores have some things that online shopping cannot provide: one-on-one relationships, human interaction, and the incomparable experience of engaging the senses. Although some brands are closing their physical stores and moving solely online, many smaller, independent retailers are not only surviving, but thriving thanks to their increased focus on customer service, bringing in unique items, and giving shoppers a pleasant, in-person experience.
Engaging the Senses Dr. Maura Krushinski has worked hard to create a welcoming environment for her customers at The Irish Design Center, a beloved 40-year-old Irish-themed specialty store located in the heart of the Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, centered between two universities. Krushinski, who is a psychologist by trade and founder of the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, jumped at the opportunity to purchase the store when it came up for sale a year-and-a-half ago. Before she purchased it however, she had to ask herself how brick and mortar could still be viable during the internet era. “First, we have a wonderful location in a pretty cultural location of Oakland; it has been here a long time and is well known. The challenge has been how to get people excited about things from Ireland if they are not from Ireland,” she said. Krushinski has met that challenge by continuing to stock items that will appeal not just to an Irish heart, but also to those customers who appreciate the beauty of Irish merchandise and culture. “What has been a very interesting surprise is the items coming out of Ireland are amazingly beautiful, from clothing to jewelry and art. We’re not spilling shamrocks, but there is a lot of richness and symbolism with the quality of everything we bring in,” she said. Her second challenge was to create an experience for in-store customers, as the younger shopping demographic is coming of age in an era of e-commerce. “The pendulum has swung in the direction of online shopping because people are busy and it is convenient. But now, with this upcoming generation of shoppers, they’re very excited about the novelty of being in a shop,” said Krushinski. She said that on average, customers spend about 20 minutes in her shop, and from entry to exit, she aims to give them a sensory experience, starting with taste: the teapot is always on, and she always has a ‘taste of Ireland’ on the table that customers can sample as they shop. “They can touch it and smell it and see it and taste it and hear it. Right now, the music is playing, the water is boiling, we also have hot chocolate from Ireland on the menu, we’re tasting Irish candy infused with whiskey, they can smell the perfumes and the soaps, and people love to touch the linens and the wool; so there’s a lot to do here in the shop,” she said. And that journey of the senses is an experience that cannot be replicated online. In the fall, she plans to add a monthly Saturday Irish story hour and to elaborate on their Irish food offerings with the addition of a very small café. Amanda Dawe, owner of The Natural Emporium in St. John’s, Newfoundland, serves the conscious living community with a wide selection of eco-friendly products, metaphysical products, and the like. Despite the explosion of the World Wide Web, Dawe has not experienced difficulty in competing with major stores or brands. “We offer unique products that are not available with bigger stores. We have a little something that can interest a range of customers. Customers come to talk and spend time in the pleasant atmosphere,” she said. Indeed, her shop’s website alludes to wanting to create an “Emporium of Kindness,” both in the products that they sell and in the service they give to customers. Dawe said that when major brands close their physical stores, it could potentially result in more business for the smaller, independent stores. “When people are out for a shopping day, they are not necessarily thinking about online shopping at that moment,” she said. Plus, “we also aim to have unique items and often group our products in interesting themes.” “It has been important for us to establish a retail store that does not just sell goods, but offers a wonderful experience for the customer as well,” she added. Stumble and Relish is located in a quirky, artsy area of Evanston, a college town just north of Chicago. Jaime Leonardi, who co-owns the shop with her mother, carries goods from small artisans, including jewelry, general gifts, items for men and babies, and a section featuring local city pride items. Leonardi doesn’t see the big box stores or online stores as her competition, but
Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 7
rather she’s up against other small bricks and mortars. She explained that her customers are people who shop on Etsy. “They love the handmade aspect, but they can see it in person,” she said. The ability to offer a tactile experience coupled with having something giftwrapped for free is appealing, as well as regularly bringing in new goods and artists. “To me, our store is the Etsy you can come in and touch and feel; you can’t do that online,” she said.
E-Commerce Despite the desire to draw in customers, several shops interviewed are considering having at least a small e-commerce presence. Krushinski said that she is considering doing so, but only after focusing on the physical store and making sure loyal customers know that the original owner’s vision of the store is still present. “We do want to be full-service, but it’s an interesting challenge. I’m not sure we can get everything we offer online, but we do
ship and have people call us because they’ve seen something online and they’ve asked us to get it for them. At some point, we might offer some choice items that people can get
Leonardi does sell some of her bestselling items online, as well as some one-of-a-kind pieces, but the online customers are usually those who have visited the store.
“It has been important for us to establish a retail store that does not just sell goods, but offers a wonderful experience for the customer as well”
online because we want to respond to folks who are not in Pittsburgh,” she said.
Even though Dawe does not plan to sell her merchandise online, she nonetheless makes use
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of social media by posting daily on Instagram and Facebook with light, uplifting and positive messages. “Our general target demographic is both female and male, aged 20+, shopping for items to enhance their intuition, bring mindfulness and peace. I do not feel this has changed due to e-commerce stores,” said Dawe. Another way they attract millennials is by carrying a variety of vegan/cruelty free product and natural/organic products. Krushinski also relies on social media as well as print ads, but for her store, long entrenched in the community, word-ofmouth is powerful.
It’s That Personal Touch Keeping your store relevant, updating items and keying into customers’ needs is essential to draw foot traffic into your shop. Krushinski added that it’s important to keep your items moving, so that every time customers come in, the shop, and the merchandise, is a little different, while still offering old favorites. Still, perhaps the most fundamental
ingredient of all is developing relationships with customers; after all, the Internet can’t strike up a two-way conversation with shoppers and make them feel welcome. “I feel it is the personal touch that makes our store unique,” said Dawe. “Our customers have become like family.” Leonardi said that customers are drawn into her store for a few reasons. “One is, our core customers are people who live in the neighborhood, people who have lived here for a long time; part of the draw is sharing a personal connection in your town and being able to find something special right down the street,” she said. The other draw, she continued, is that it is a transient town, and people who travel in for business or for Northwestern University are interested in checking out a unique store, something that they don’t have in their own hometowns. Plus, added, Leonardi, she tries to give back to the community by supporting various causes, such as holding trunk shows or fundraisers that benefit local schools or animal
rescues. “This will get someone off the couch on a Thursday night if we’re doing a giveback that means something to them. I do feel like it’s a nice connection and motivates people to come to the show. That kind of thing really can’t be replicated online,” she said. Gift shop owners maintain belief that the in-person shopping experience outweighs the ease of online purchasing. “People really do want to go somewhere where their name is known. Any business will thrive if people feel good when they come in,” said Krushinski. Dawe agreed, adding, “We aim to have customers feel uplifted when they leave the store.” Hilary Daninhirsch is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh. She has written features and business profiles for dozens of trade and lifestyle publications. Hilary can be reached at https:// hilarydaninhirsch.journoportfolio.com.
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business&marketing Automate Your Marketing Hustle by Megy Karydes
Like any business without a dedicated marketing department, it falls on independent retailer owners to carve out time to market their businesses. In the last issue’s column, we focused on how to draft a marketing plan even during your busiest season: the fourth quarter. In this issue’s column, we want to help you build out that plan by sharing some time and productivity hacks to assist you in automating your marketing hustle. The idea is to set up systems now that will help you better-execute your marketing ideas, so that it becomes second-nature.
STEP 1: Decide On The Best System To Use: Analog or Digital Before creating those systems, it’s important to consider what systems you use daily and find easy to use. This is key because no amount of planning will matter if the system you put into place isn’t already a part of your daily life. For example, if you love to Bullet Journal and use it to manage your day or projects, consider adding a collection so you can collect the ideas and follow the process. If all of your systems are digital, then stay digital. Digital options include Evernote, Microsoft Outlook, Streak for Gmail, Trello and Asana. Ideal systems are simple and easy, streamlined and specific.
STEP 2: Get Organized Once you determine your system, it’s time to get organized. Again, planning is important so consider your best-case scenario: what do you love to do the most and what do you feel garners the most engagement and sales? If it’s social media, then your focus will be on pulling together ideas to support social media posts. If it’s your emails, then your focus will be on content to share via your email subscribers. Brainstorm the marketing vehicles you want to use in the coming year and set them up as if they’re folders for now. It could look like this: • Emails • Blog • Social Media • Special Events • Media Outreach • Good Marketing Examples
STEP 3: Begin Filling More Than One Of Your Categories Here is where you begin automating your marketing hustle. You want
10 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
every one of your marketing efforts to do double or triple duty (or more, if possible). To get the most out of your marketing, everything you do must earn its spot in your marketing mix. For example, the special event you have planned next month should inform the content of your email which can become content for your social media and maybe even attract a story in your local press. That one event could be marketed and promoted through at least five different platforms, increasing your odds that the event will be seen by customers and, therefore, increase your sales. A blog post shouldn’t be just a blog post. The link should be shared widely. Once you start realizing all of the places your marketing assets could be shared, keep brainstorming. Do you have a local chamber of commerce who might be interested in your material? Could you create flyers to share with other businesses, library or with local elected officials? Might the local newspaper be interested in including your blog post of great gift ideas for (insert holiday) as a sidebar or article on their website? Create a list of other people, organizations or places that might be willing to help you market your business if you simply ask.
STEP 4: Your Daily Lesson Plan This is where the rubber hits the road. Commit to doing something marketing-related for 15 minutes a day – that’s it. If you’re on a roll and want to work more than that, super, but all you need is really 15 minutes a day to get the ball rolling. Why? Habit. Part of the marketing hustle is acknowledging that actual need to hustle. It has to get done. Marketing doesn’t just happen. Sales don’t just happen. It needs planning, organizing, and nurturing. Collect good ideas, create a library of images, inspirational sayings you love, special event ideas you think your customers will enjoy. At the end of the day, if you were only able to get one marketing thing done, it was at least one thing. By the end of the week, you’ll have seven, and by the end of the month – 30!
STEP 5: Analyze and Celebrate No marketing plan is ever complete, but you can analyze your outreach efforts and celebrate your accomplishments. Build upon what you’re learning. And keep automating that marketing! Megy Karydes is a Chicago-based content writer and marketing consultant. Find her at www.MegyKarydes.com
For Great Holiday Sales:
Create a Memorable Customer Experience
12 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
By Uma Silbey
Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 13
he holiday season is not only a time for celebrating, it’s also a time for gift shopping. For merchants, it is also the most important sales period of the year. Holiday business sometimes makes the difference between profit or loss. That being the case, it is vitally important that you, the storeowner, do whatever you can to help increase sales. Besides carrying a good product mix that is merchandised well, what will help you sell even more is to have your store offer customers a total, full-sensory experience rather than just being a place for them to buy. When customers start feeling good just by being in your store, perhaps feeling more relaxed, calm, and happy, they will linger. While they linger, if your displays are well arranged and complemented with helpful information, they will purchase from you. Not only will they feel happy when making the purchase, but that purchase will continue to evoke good feelings, remind them of your store and bring them back again for more of the same.
Creating a powerful customer experience will keep them in your store, but it also can draw people that were only passing by. Your front window display might be attractive, but so are the stores around you. What may very well make a difference is that when they are walking by your store, something is reaching out to them that offers an interesting experience. Perhaps they catch a whiff of a scent that they can’t resist, or perhaps they heard a hint of intriguing sound that they want to hear more of, or a bit of twinkling light caught their eye and made them pause. In these examples, it is the suggestion of a good experience that “ hooks” the potential buyer, not just what they saw in the window. Many of you have incorporated scent and sound in your stores, but I am suggesting that you go beyond that and create a full sensory experience. Think of involving all five senses. Appeal to sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Think of what would positively stimulate each type of sensory experience for you and create it in your store. Or,
14 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
alternatively, do a little research about what is most appealing to each of the senses and incorporate what you learn. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Sight Most, if not all of you, already appeal to this sensory experience with attractive displays that make your products look irresistible. However, what is sometimes missed is how important light is to both your store and your products. If your store is darker than others around it, people won’t tend to enter. Likewise, if you have dark areas in your store or around your displays, the product placed there won’t sell very well. Stones and jewelry need lots and lots of light. Unless it is shining right into someone’s eyes, or creating reflection rather than highlights, there is no such thing as too much light on stones and jewelry. (Be sure the light isn’t creating too much heat however.) Sparkle, especially sparkle that moves, always attracts attention. You might have some form of glitter that dangles
from your ceilings, perhaps hangings with sparkling mirrors that turn in a slight breeze of a fan. This attracts attention. Light also includes color, so be sure to have uplifting colors in your store, from the displays, walls, and perhaps even the outfits your employees are wearing. My jewelry displays are white with color accents in both my wholesale business and my artist business in Maui. That is because throughout the years, I have found that my sales are much higher when I show on white rather than the traditional black. White feels better than black. It tends to uplift while black tends to enclose. When you think of color, concentrate on how it makes you feel rather than just how it looks and use the colors that make you feel better.
scents of the New Age type, in terms of good associations and warm memories, the smell of fresh baked cookies will lead to better sales (sales, memory, and positive association are linked). The scent of baking cookies can be found in oil diffusers, wax melts, and scented candles (an oil diffuser is probably much safer than a burning candle).
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Touch Be sure to have lots that your customers can touch and feel once they enter your store. Stones are great for that. You might have a well-lighted display of a large clear quartz specimen to attract attention, (because they do), surrounded by colored stones and smaller clear crystals in open displays where people can touch and feel them (center the large
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Not only is creating a total sensory experience in your store likely to increase sales, but it is also going to make your store a special place to be, both for yourself, your sales staff, and your customers.
Smell It is particularly important to have scent in your store. You don’t need to overwhelm your customer with it, especially because some people are extra-sensitive to scent. Have it instead be a gentle, almost subliminal scent floating in the light-filled air you have created in your store. Now, many of you are already doing this. However, I might suggest one extra consideration. It has been shown that one of the most positively evocative scents is actually the smell of cookies fresh from the oven. If someone gets a whiff of these baking cookies from the sidewalk, they will very likely soon be inside your store because most people have happy memories associated with baking cookies. In spite of the fact that we may personally prefer more traditional
clear quartz up high beyond easy reach). In fact, if your sales staff is attuned and paying attention, when the customer reaches for the stones, they can engage the customer, perhaps by suggesting other stones to feel. Based on my long experience, I recommend that you have the clear quartz, amethyst, pink and blue stones be more prominent, followed by other colored stones. I have found that since 1973, customers have been more attracted to the clear and sparkling, purples or blues in my stones and jewelry than any other colors. It still holds true. You might, then, display more product in a “touch trail,” so that the customer can touch progressively different textures and colors and will be drawn from one display to another as they feel the various textures. You might
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have silk scarves, for example, that people can caress, followed by a display of something fuzzy, and then more stones, followed by other varying textures. People love to touch and feel, and chances are that if they feel something that they like, they will purchase it (especially if they already are predisposed from breathing in the baking cookie scent!).
Hearing Most of us have discovered the importance of having background music in our stores. What is most important is that we don’t play music or sound that will “space people out” by being too soft and dreamy or too “out of body.” Though beautiful, meditation music isn’t always best to play because though your customers might enjoy it, they may also stop moving and their attention will be lifted away from your store, and, if so, they will certainly stop buying. The best music to play is music that is uplifting and “moves.” It should have some rhythm, even if it’s ever so slight, because then, as the music moves, so too will your customers and they will continue to be involved with your store. With respect to the holidays, you might want to play some holiday music. Since there are people of many traditions shopping, and perhaps your stock reflects differing traditions, it is best to find music that will appeal to them all, not leaving out one tradition for another. For the holidays, then, you might try music with an angelic sound.
Taste A good taste makes people feel happy. You might consider having tastings or small food samples available for people who come into your store. Have a plate set up not far from your front door with “samples” of small cookies, candies, or chips for instance. You may scatter them throughout your store to keep people wandering from display to display. Be sure to label the ingredients exactly so that people don’t eat things that are not good for them. Perhaps one evening a week you can have samplings of tasty treats that you have someone carrying around your store, coupled with some kind of appearance or performance that can be advertised. One of your designers, for example, can speak about his or her designs, or the company making the food treats can talk about how
they’re made, or one of your authors can do a reading and book signing. You can offer readings or energy balancing sessions, all something that people love. Of course, you can then sell the related products.
other sensory delights in your store. Do this yourself as well. Perhaps have them close their eyes for a few moments and imagine that the experiences that they sense are flowing into their beings as they open to their presence. Thus, filled with beauty and peace, they are ready to go out to greet their customers with attuned helpfulness. If nothing else, having many sensory experiences in your store will provide your sales staff with a good opening to begin their talk with the customer. “Doesn’t that smell amazing? “Oh…taste that! You’ll love it!” or “Doesn’t that stone feel good? Try this one?” or “That sound in the background is so relaxing, yes?” are some effective ways to start a conversation so that your customer isn’t scared away thinking that you’re just trying to sell to them.
Train Your Sales Staff All of these sensory experiences and outcomes can be further enhanced if your sales staff is aware and trained as to their effects. If your sales staff is trained, they will be better able to attune themselves to the sensory feelings that your customers are having and can better communicate with them. When they approach a customer, they will be able to be in harmony with them and be able to then steer them to one or more products that will be of best appeal. Your sales staff, then, should be attuned to every sensory experience in your store Perhaps take a few minutes before the start of each day, to have them open and immerse themselves in the scents, sights, sounds and
Be Creative Not only is creating a total sensory experience in your store likely to increase sales, but it is also going to make your store a special place
“Be kind whenever possible. Ganesh reminds It is always possible.” you that the wisest - The Dalai Lama people always keep an open mind.
to be, both for yourself, your sales staff, and your customers. It will help distinguish your store from others and make it so that your store is the one that your customers flock to over and over again. These are only a few ideas for creating a sensory, experiential atmosphere in your store. Have fun and notice what makes you feel good…and then bring it to your stores through sight, smell, hearing taste and touch. Be creative and feel free to experiment. Uma Silbey was one of the first to pioneer crystals, gemstones, and ‘energy’ information to the world through her jewelry designs, books, and music. Besides running her jewelry company since the late ‘70s, Uma has authored six books, including the classic “Crystal Ball Gazing” and her latest, “The Ultimate Guide to Crystals and Stones,” both available through New Leaf. She has also recorded 18 albums of meditation music and guided visualization, and twice has been considered for a Grammy nomination, including her latest, “Altered States.” See www.Umasilbey. com for blogs, articles, music, and newsletters.
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Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 17
How to Deal With Employee Theft By Jacki Smith
n the spirit of transparency, I am in the process of recovering from a massive embezzlement from a trusted employee. Between direct theft, costs, fees, and interest, we are looking at $120,000 of loss. It’s shocking, shameful, and emotionally devastating, but I am sad to say – it’s also quite common. When I first found out I was stolen from, the first question was, how could I have let this happen? How was I so inattentive and gullible? Did I willfully turn a blind eye? Did I abdicate my money to a stranger? As I investigated, I realized that it was a slippery slope that got me in trouble. I was manipulated, managed, and sabotaged in a way that kept me in a state of trust for that person and doubt in myself. This thief is a pro and I was played. In the end, I am ultimately responsible for my mistakes, I broke all of my checks and balances rules for convenience and ignored the warning signs. I tell this story as often as I can because it is so common. The more I tell people what happened, the more I hear a story of someone they worked for, worked with, know socially, or have direct experience. Everyone is touched by embezzlement and unfortunately, it most often happens in small businesses because we rely on trust to make our businesses run. Larger corporations start with a level of expectation of theft, small business start with an expectation of cooperation. That’s why, according to 2016 HISCOX1 embezzlement study, says that over 80 percent of embezzlement happen in businesses with 150 or less employees. And just under 50 percent had fewer than 25 employees. So how can small businesses like ours protect ourselves from this seemingly eventuality? I have been researching this all summer as I set up my improved financial system and I want to share with you what I have found.
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Who, Why, and How? Who It’s usually the most trusted employee, the one who you don’t have to check up on and they know it. The study also reports that it is most often the employee you would least expect. They are well-liked, understanding, supportive and act trustworthy in many other situations. In my case, the employee was emotionally supportive and would point out security risks in our system. She was a quiet cheerleader and the person everyone went to for support – the office “mom” as it were. She also showed all the red flags warning signs of an embezzler: Living beyond one’s means – Always has a cool new gadget. Financial problems – Them or someone around them does not know how to manage money. Unusually close relationship – With vendors, customers, or employees. Recent divorce or family problems – Crisis magnets.
Continual “circumstances” that prevent a clear accounting – The system keeps breaking. Missing documents. Vendors are complaining about late payments. Back reconciliations are late or not done. Accounts don’t balance. Vendor addresses or bank accounts changed.
Why People don’t usually start out stealing from you. It comes on over time as their life changes and your trust in them grows. In my case, my employee was with me for almost two years and most of what was stolen was in the last six months of their employment. There are four factors that can turn an employee into a criminal:
Opportunity – Employees that do not have a clear checks and balances, that get the trusted financial hall pass are more likely to take the opportunity to steal. It is usually the top level, longest term staff members who figure out how to work around your system. Capability – They have the skill and knowledge to work your system. Rationalization – They must find a way to rationalize this to be able to look you in the eye every day while they are stripping you blind. They feel they deserve more; they have a bigger problem than you, they are underpaid and overworked, etc.
How Pressure – There is a new stressor in their life that is easily solved by money. Gambling habits, bad investment, financial loss, medical expenses, new family expenses, college, divorce, or significant debt.
The most common embezzler is your bookkeeper, bill payer, payroll manager or anyone that handles your money. If they can get into your accounts, customer files, loans, bill payments, they can find a way to pay themcontinued on page 22
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20 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
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selves a bit more. The majority of embezzlement is direct transfer of money into personal accounts. Check fraud, credit card fraud, fake
account, they can run it through theirs. Overtime, extra paychecks or even a raise you didn’t authorize can be a way to steal from you.
This is were every business of every size protects itself from fraud. They split financial responsibilities and NO one person, other than a single owner, has all the control.
returns at the cash register, pocketing cash sales, are the usual methods. In this generation, there are cyber security issues such as online bill payment, ACH transactions, and personal PayPal accounts. It takes nothing to get a Square account and instead of running a customer purchase through your merchant
Theft of equipment, product, raw materials and even intellectual property are all methods of embezzlement. From reselling your property to making a version of their own, the methods are only limited by imagination. My stor y involves ma ny electronic methods. This person paid our bills, so they
had a company debit card. They paid their utilities irregularly to look like they belonged to the company, bought their groceries during shopping trips for company parties and lots of office supplies they resold to their friends. They created ACH transactions to their own account under vendor names and used their Square account to act like a supplier. In the end, they used all the company credit and debit cards to fill their PayPal account by using the swipe you get for free and connect to your phone. They generated all the financial reports, so they were able to fill accounts to make it look like we had cash until all of a sudden, we didn’t.
PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS Checks & Balances This is were every business of every size protects itself from fraud. They split f inancial responsibilities and NO one
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person, other than a single owner, has all the control. The one who pays the bills, does not sign the checks (or posts the online payments). Whomever generates payroll doesn’t print and distribute it. The one who processes payments does not process deposits. Not only does this prevent theft, it catches mistakes. Have your statements and bills sent to your home so you can review them before bringing them to the office. My banker suggested a small balance credit card for anyone who must make purchases for you. You can limit the funds available and review the statement every month. Any transaction that does not have a receipt can be charged back to the employee. It’s easy to get busy and hand the helpful, talented employee all the tasks you don’t want to do. NEVER let watching the money be one of the tasks.
Background Checks It’s easy to do background checks these days. Before you hire employees, if their circumstances change, their behavior changes or they suddenly have more money, do a background check. The lega; website, www. goodhire.com is a low cost way to do a background search. From $55 to $80 you can verify criminal background to education. You can also contact your lawyer or accountant for recommendations in your area.
Be Insured We are fortunate to have an Employee Dishonesty policy. There are limits to the amount covered, and it can only be used once per the lifetime of an employee. Check with your insurance agent for its availability.
Audit Your Accounts If you are not touching your bank accounts personally, do an audit on your own at least monthly. Reports can be manipulated, so go straight to the source, your bank. Check deposits, transactions, bill payment accounts, credit card statement, merchant account statement, etc. Ask your accountant or bookkeeper for a list of accounts to audit and how to look at it for accuracy. I stopped looking. I got busy and distracted with all the manipulated crisis and my own outside interests and stopped looking at my bank accounts daily. It was a quick six months that drained my accounts. I am back in the habit of a daily review of my
Most of your staff wants to be there, supports you and is interested in the health of your business. Promote that, promote honest y and trust worthiness, be that yourself and you will find that everyone will be your checks and balances. Educate your employees on what theft looks like and what it does to the business. If everyone is informed, they know when to call out something that doesn’t seem right. At our store, we celebrate our wins so when we kept having raw materials arrive late or short, or when we were told there wasn’t enough money for something, everyone called it out. From our candle maker to the president of the company, we all knew something was not right and worked together to uncover it.
Jacki Smith is the co-owner of Coventry Creations www.coventrycreations.com. Her passion of personal empowerment and small business has been the driving force in her success and her journey of lifelong learning. Jacki is a regular contributor to Retailing Insight and loves sharing her experience, successes, and cautionary tales.
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online accounts. I look at every transaction from the days before and match that to known purchases. This is how I caught my employee, I started looking at my bank accounts again. I would not wish this crisis on anyone. Embezzlement probably won’t happen to you and you can ensure that reality if you take these few steps and develop systems of balances and checks. Our store is healthy, strong, insured, and recovering and I am eternally grateful for the support I get from my team and community. I can now officially be a cautionary tale and I offer you the wisdom I gained from it.
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Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 23
Practical Answers For Tough Business Questions
A special coverage from Coalition of Visionary Resources COVR in partnership with Kim Perkins
And if your book does sell, keeping track of reordering can also be time consuming, especially if they order from distributors weekly – your book will not come up for reorder. So, what can you do to make it easier for the retailer? One thing is It is often tough for authors, especially local ones, to comprehend to get your book carried by the distributor that the retailer uses. This why a store owner might not want to stock their self-published may take some time and investment, and you will lose an additional book. After all, aren’t bookstores in business to sell books? And why percentage of the cover price, but it can also be well worth your effort. wouldn’t a retailer want to support a self-published author? Once your book is carried by a distributor, you can market it to other Before you make a snap judgement, there are many things to stores around the country who can then easily order it too. consider in this equation. Truth is, most retailers do want to support Another option is to approach self-published authors, and especially the retailer, ask why they are not local ones, but the way that the book carrying your book. If their answer distribution industry is set up may not Need answers? has to do with not being able to be conducive to making that feasible. know when it sells, not having time Most mid- to large-sized retailers Send your retail questions to to call to get you to bring in more, use a POS (Point of Sale) computer firstname.lastname@example.org etc. , offer to keep track of that system with electronic ordering capayourself. Perhaps the retailer would bilities. So the book buyer might like to stock two copies of your generate purchase orders for hundreds book. Offer to make it your job to check each week to see if they of books from many different publishers. Or they might use a distribuneed more. If they do, simply drop off one or two copies (whatever tion house and place one large order, choosing from the many publishers they need) with an invoice at the front desk. Often times, this will the distributor carries. Either way, it is not usually economical for them be a win-win for both parties. to order one or two titles here and there from small publishers. You could also encourage the retailer to create a space – perhaps an There is not a large margin of profit in selling books (if you are endcap – that highlights local authors. If you know other local authors, an author I don’t have to tell you this) and if the retailer is a smaller coordinate with them and present the info to the retailer. Always hold establishment, it may be even harder to justify the work involved (order, in your mind that the goal is to make this easy and painless for the receive, display, inventory, invoice payment) to carry one book. retailer. If you can come up with a way that they can showcase local And the decision may not be about money at all. The retailer may not authors and you can do some of the legwork, they may readily agree think your book “fits” in their store, they may already have too many to the partnership. titles on the subject, or they may not think the cover art or description will create sales. This is their prerogative to make those decisions and it may not be personal at all. Why won’t some retailers carry self-published books?
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Do children’s products and titles sell in the MBS space?
The fast answer is yes, children’s books and products can sell well in the Mind, Body, Spirit section of your store. However, it’s not a guarantee that they will sell just because you place them in that section. As with any well-planned array of products you would like to add to your store inventory, the selection of books and products needs to be carefully curated. If you are not well versed in which titles sell best, and which gifts/toys have a proven track record, get some help from your distributors or peruse catalogs with this focus. Keep in mind that the products and books that you stock must be attractive to children, of course, but it is the parents and grandparents that purchase most of the time. Therefore, your display and product selection should focus on being appealing to those who love children as well as the youngsters themselves.
What point of sale extras can I offer to keep my customers from ordering from Amazon on their phone while standing right in my store?
I am not sure that a point of sale extra will bring you the desired result in this circumstance. The best way to have your customers be loyal to your establishment, and not order directly from Amazon while they are in your store, is to give them ample reasons to purchase from you. The first thing to remember is that (unless you have some magical formula I have never heard of) you cannot compete with Amazon on price, so don’t even try. What you are offering is an entirely different experience that encompasses personalized service, knowledgeable staff, kindness and a smile, and hopefully a loyalty program that encourages them to purchase from you – all things they cannot get from Amazon.
Resign yourself to the fact that there will still be those who come in to peruse your merchandise and then order online without a thought of how this effects your bottom line. The key is to minimize this percentage of people and maximize those that are loyal to you. One thing I suggest are to implement a Customer Loyalty program if you don’t already have one. You can do this with a physical card that gets punched when a customer makes a purchase, or you may have this already built into your computer Point of Sale program. Both ways are effective, cost little to manage, and can swiftly create a loyal customer base that doesn’t mind spending a bit more in person, rather than order online, because they know a reward is coming when they do. Trust me, customers love rewards! A nd f inally, consider an education campaign. I agree it is incredibly rude for a customer to order a product online while on your premises, however, they simply may not understand the impact. Creating a “Buy Local” education campaign (you can find a lot of helpful info online) will give them a few quick, understandable reasons why to purchase in the community where they reside. The more that they understand how they will benefit the community, and you as a retailer, the more likely that people will choose to buy local simply because it is the right thing to do. The Coalition of Visionary Resources – COVR is a non-profit trade organization dedicated to supporting independent retailers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and publishers in the body-min-spirit industry. To learn more, visit www.covr.org
Kim Perkins is a business consultant, author and national speaker. She was co-owner of Elysian Fields, Books & Gifts for Conscious Living, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Florida, for over 20 years. As a consultant, Kim specializes in helping small businesses achieve financial health and excellent employee relations. She can be reached at Kim@kimberlykperkins.com.
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Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 25
Keys to Magical Portals Opening Magical Portals Through Divination Decks By Melinda Carver Modern customers are still enthralled with ancient magical ways. Alchemy, herbs, plants, and animals all were used in magical rituals long ago and continue to be an element of mystical practices in the 21st century. Divination decks are usually the entry way for many people into the magical world around us. So, help customers unlock the portal into a wondrous world of contemporary magic that can inspire and guide them forward.
The Herbcrafter’s Tarot Latisha Guthrie Illustrated by Joanna Powell Colbert ISBN 9781572819726 | Price $23.95 U.S. Games Systems, Inc. www.usgamesinc.com
Image: The Herbcrafter’s Tarot I Photo: Kathryn Moran
This deck opens the portal to botanical magic and archetypes in everyday usage. It celebrates the timehonored folk skills of herbs, trees, flowers, and plants. In the book, the author provides the card meaning and additional “herb crafting” exercises. The Minors follow the Elements (Air, Water, Earth, and Fire). Also, Powell Colbert’s illustrations have a white trim, with the name of the card and plant name on each. 78-card deck and 124-page full color book
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The Alchemical Visions Tarot Arthur Taussig ISBN 9781578636419 I Price $49.95 Weiser Books I www.redwheelweiser.com
This is a deeply entrancing deck that leads you on an inner hero’s journey into your psych and the magic you will find within. The vividly illustrated, giant 5”x7” card deck, based on the RWS style, features Taussig’s black and white and color imagery that provides a visceral reaction to the seeker. The illustrations feature the physical human form, animals, and alchemy symbols throughout the deck. In the guidebook, you can find keys to unlock your subconscious mind based on Taussig’s 10-year study of Jungian psychology. 78-card deck and 192-page book
Mirror Truth Lenormand Cards Silvia Neitzner ISBN 9780764357121 I Price $24.99 Red Feather I www.schifferbooks.com
The mix of ancient symbols with intuitive and modern art in this deck assist the seeker in revealing hidden truths of their life issues. Each card is titled and trimmed in gold. The mirror as a portal to the Soul and Spirits is a long magical tradition, and this deck guides the subconscious to surface easily and swiftly. Neitzner’s boldly colorful Lenormand deck includes a booklet. 36-card deck and 80-page book
The Language of Flowers: Loving support from the wisdom of nature Cheralyn Darcey ISBN 9781925682984 I Price $12.95 Rockpool Publishing www.rockpoolpublishing.com.au
Allow flowers to speak to you to uplift your spirits and inspire you in these distinctive mini-cards. Botanical explorer and Natural History artist Cheralyn Darcey uses vintage botanical art on a black background to really make the flower art pop. Each card features the popular and scientific name of the flower, as well as its key word and message. 40-card deck
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Mystic Sisters Oracle Deck Emily Balivet ISBN 9781572817883 I Price $22.95 U.S. Games Systems, Inc. www.usgamesinc.com
This is a fantastic deck for sisterhood circles, goddess classes, or for those searching to deep dive in feminine mysteries. In this deck, you are invited to join a mystic sisterhood featuring goddesses Lilith, Bast, witch rituals and ancient archetypes. The colorful illustrations are titled and bordered on each card, and the artwork takes you into the heart of feminine power and spirituality. 48-card deck and 40-page booklet
The Hero’s Journey Oracle Deck Kelly Sullivan Walden Illustrated by Rassouli ISBN 9780738761787 I Price $23.95 Llewellyn Worldwide I www.llewllyn.com
Follow the 12 steps of the Hero’s journey to begin the quest for knowledge, strength, and change. The deck celebrates the female form and dream imagery, including breathtaking illustrations. The author shares the message, dream symbol and mantra for each card, including Become the Elixir and Trip the Light Fantastic. These cards will illuminate your dreams, awakening and activating the wisdom detailed during your night visions. 52-card deck and 152-page guidebook
The Enchanted Love Tarot Monte Farber & Amy Zerner ISBN 9780764357091 I Price $34.99 Red Feather I www.schifferbooks.com
Love spells are the most popular magic performed anywhere, and this deck offers clear and insightful keys to heal and make way for healthy and happy relationships. The subtitle of this deck is “The Lover’s Guide to Dating, Mating and Relating” and is accompanied by a full color book. The Minors have been changed to Roses, Wings, Shells and Gems. These cards do not have any additional artwork but for the number in the suits. Zerner and Farber’s multicultural fairy tale art is paired with spells, rituals, and enchantments for the seeker to welcome “true love” into their life. 78-card deck and 176-page book
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Tarot of the Golden Wheel Mila Losenko ISBN 9781572819764 I Price $22.95 U.S. Games Systems, Inc. www.usgamesinc.com
This deck allows seekers to tap into old-world wisdom and magic for their modern life issues. Russian and Slavic fairy tales and magic inspired, this deck in the RWS tradition includes a booklet. The Golden Wheel represents Karma and the never-ending cycle of life and is a sacred symbol in Eastern Europe and Russia. Losenko’s charming watercolor illustrations evoke traditional folklore with clothing, symbols, and ornaments. 78-card deck and 84-page guidebook
Cosmic Cat Wisdom Cards Randy Crutcher & Barb J. Horn ISBN 9780998897318 I Price $19.99 EnlightenUp, LLC I www.enlightenup.biz
A delightful deck to seek the cosmic magic of the familiar cat. As known, felines have been entwined with magic since ancient times, and this deck highlights the wisdom of these cute little creatures – their independence, humor, self-esteem, and vitality. The artwork also shows the playful side of cats and kittens. The deck includes a colored guidebook to assist with personal growth in bliss, courage, nurture, and persistence. 60-card deck and 100-page guidebook Melinda Carver is an award-winning Author, Psychic Medium and Speaker. To know more Carver and her work, please visit her website at www.psychicmelinda.webs.com.
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Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 29
o n la ip lt A : E R O T S Y MEET M Altiplano store is a Fair Trade lifestyle boutique located in southern Vermont. Their brand name means highlands in Spanish, and it is a reference to the Highlands of Guatemala where owners Shari and John have been working with many cooperative groups and small family businesses for the past 30 years. Since they are committed to create innovative products that support indigenous communities and the environment, their intention is to provide items and inspiration that support a conscious and creative lifestyle. We spoke with owner Shari Zarin to learn more. Why did you decide the open a store? My husband, John and I opened our brick and mortar store, after working in Guatemala for 15 years developing product for the wholesale market. We saw brick and mortar as an opportunity to contribute to our Vermont community and as a bridge to our two worlds. The design process is my favorite part of my job. I love my work with the artisans, and the fact that we have been able to offer fair wage, long-term employment for nearly 30 years. The fact that these people count on me, keeps me inspired. I work to develop collections specific to each group’s skills and resources twice a year. This keeps
me focused and often dictates my design direction. Opening a retail space was exciting to me, not only to showcase the work that I do in Guatemala, but as a new creative expression. I love the freedom that I have to create in the space, and to curate collections of beautiful and meaningful things. It brings me great joy to share it with my community. I enjoy the opportunity to connect with people and to offer them directly an experience and products to inspire and enhance their lives. How would you describe your customer type? Altiplano has a diverse customer base. We are fortunate to be located in a vibrant downtown setting and to enjoy a loyal local following of a variety of ages. Generally speaking, our community is rural, artistic, and down to earth. Our people often prioritize conscious and natural living. We are so fortunate that so many of them intentionally support local business. We also cater to a broad spectrum of tourists who are attracted to our values and aesthetic. As a store owner can you share a little bit of your weekly routine? My weekly routine is often split between the
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ALTIPLANO www.Altiplano.com 42 Elliot Street Brattleboro, VT 05301 800-258-4044 Owners: Shari Zarin & John Von Wodtke Year Opened: 2004 Square Footage: 1,500 square feet Hours: 10am-6pm Monday-Saturday 11am-5pm Sunday Products in Stock Women’s clothing, jewelry, personal accessories, natural and creative toys, stationery, candles, tarot decks, natural body care and scents, reusable food storage, incense, inspirational books, textiles Inventory Method/ Software Use QuickBooks Inventory Turn: 6.2 days Sales by Category Women’s clothing, jewelry, gifts, toys, stationery, candles, natural beauty and scents, tarot decks, incense Events/Services Occasional workshops in essential oils, crafts, and tarot readings
needs of our wholesale business and those of the store. I spend a lot of time traveling for both businesses and my role is design for both. I live in Guatemala for part of the year designing jewelry and accessories and managing the photography for our website and wholesale catalog. As a shop owner, I travel to tradeshows at least five times a year, to put myself in front of new brands and trends. When I am in Vermont, I spend a lot of time with our shop manager, Quinn Castelli. Together, we select every item that is sold in the shop. Sourcing and ordering is a big part of our work each week, which includes lots of inventory and product review. Incorporating new items, planning, and creating fresh in-store and window displays also occupies a good portion of our time. We both love the creative work. Managing company graphics and communication is another role we share. This includes artistic direction on our website, wholesale catalog, print ads, emails, and Instagram. I love being in the shop most. I often feel that I spend way too much of my time communicating – writing and answering emails. Some of my least favorite jobs are managing the calendar, staffing, and marketing strategy. How do you promote your brand and products to grow profit margin? We invest most of our energy on the in-store experience and rely heavily on word of mouth for promotion. We do print ads in one local publication that promotes the arts to visitors. Otherwise, we contribute to a whole host of local nonprofit events and organizations with ads and product donations. We send an infrequent email and try to stay active on Instagram. In addition, I participate in our local business association that works to promote our town.
What advice would you share with retailers in the conscious living community? My advice is to do business with kindness, as you do everything else. Do what you love and lead with your heart. The conscious living community shares these values and I believe living and doing business ethically and consciously is our greatest strength. As shop owners, our job is to create an inspiring space and selection and a welcoming and enjoyable experience. For me, this is the greatest opportunity that brick and mortar offers. I know that it is hard for some small businesses to invest in a lot of inventory, but I believe that in order to attract abundance, you must offer abundance. It has been my strategy to offer a wide variety of products and price points to cultivate a broad customer base and keeping it fresh with new items coming in regularly to maintain customer interest. My advice would be to keep your stock moving, take risks, reorder what sells and move old stock on sale! Small business owners have to wear many hats, but I encourage them to get help and invest in building a team. Wherever possible, focus your energy on the things that either inspire you, or that you are good at, and look for ways to collaborate on the other stuff. I am so fortunate and grateful to be working with my husband all these years. He brings so much perspective to the business and is very good at so many of things that I am not. In fact, he actually likes numbers! We both agree that building a team is one of our most important roles. I love the Altiplano team spirit and sharing common goals. From the artisans in Guatemala, to our stateside staff, we couldn’t do it without each other!
Do you work with consignment products? No. Do you sell products online on social media? We don’t sell on social media, but we direct sales to our website. Do you work exclusively with local artists and Made in USA products or do you carry in-store imported products and Fair Trade as well? We carry a wide assortment of products that are made in the US, but we also showcase our own fair trade jewelry and accessories that are handmade in Guatemala along with a wide variety of other fair trade, locally made and imported items. When choosing new products what is your criteria in terms of selection? Every item in the shop offers beauty and intends to make people feel good. We look for artists, items and companies that encourage slow and healthy living, consider sustainability, social responsibility, or provide information or inspiration that sparks joy, creativity, and connection. Do you frequently buy products advertised in our magazine? I love to support advertisers in this magazine! Any plans to expand your business to attract a broader audience? We often talk about offering our brick and mortar collection on our website, but don’t have any imminent plans to do that. Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 31
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15 Sound Healing & Meditation Products
to Feature In Stores This Holiday By Dudley Evenson
y husba nd, Dea n Evenson, a nd I recently joined 35 sound healers for The Shift Network’s Sound Healing Global Summit. It was thrilling to be in the ‘virtual’ company of so many pioneers in this domain and we were inspired by the depth and breadth of information presented. We also came to realize the vast array of modalities in this new, but ancient field and that visionary retailers can benefit by providing products to enhance a meditative and sound healing experience for their customers. When people hear about these topics or want to use sound and music to enhance their meditation, they become curious. Your place can be where they come to learn more. This holiday season is a perfect time to consider displaying related products in a cohesive way that invites participation by creating altars and quiet zones in the store. People will gravitate to them because they allow the customer to take a breath and relax into a moment of peace
right there in the midst of their busy lives. Your store will probably be remembered as ‘that place where you can really relax’ and they will want to keep coming back and tell their friends about it. Most retailers are selling a product, but you can be known for providing an experience and that will make you stand out. By dedicating a section or several areas of your shop to creating altars using all or some of the products listed below, you can offer a physical setting for your customers to experience the peace that comes from meditation and many of the sound healing practices. People are much more able to visualize the items in their own home if they can see them displayed in such a meaningful way. Begin by selecting an appropriate space in your store that you can dedicate to creating an altar or meditation spot. Lay down a prayer rug and place one or several meditation pillows on it facing a small table that you will use to create an altar. Cover the table with a beautiful cloth or scarf. Place statuary and visual images for focalizing and centering. Lay out several tuning forks on the altar. Decide on your lighting to create a
Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 33
mood. Set out samples of incense or sprays to be sampled. One or several small metal singing bowls or crystal bowls can be placed appropriately. Be creative. Have fun. Change the display frequently and add new items so your repeat customers will always be seeing something new to attract their attention. If you don’t have much space to create an area for sitting, consider a focused sound healing display on a countertop or table. Seeing the many items and tools together will help people to visualize such a place that they could put together in their own home or studio using products from your store. The only limit to what you can create is your imagination.
Elements to Create Sacred Sound Space 1. Prayer Rugs and Yoga Mats Include a small rug or yoga mat on the floor. Modern or ethnic wool or cotton rugs are also an option and they often have beautiful designs, are attractive and inviting. Straw tatami mats could also be used.
3. Sacred Statuary Sculptures of Buddha, Jesus, Mary, St. Frances, Kokopelli, Krishna, Quan Yin, Saraswati or other spiritual beings can provide a visual focus for meditation. Whether large or small, these three-dimensional personalities provide a sense of presence.
4. Singing Bowls & Bells The sound made when using a wooden or padded mallet to strike a metal singing bowl or a crystal bowl creates a resonance that can take one into a meditative state. Small bells, gongs or tingsha cymbals can also be displayed.
5. Tuning Forks Tuning forks used to be for musicians to set the pitch, but now they have been developed to support healing in many ways. These non-invasive devices can provide sound therapy that helps induce a state of deep relaxation and restore the body’s balance.
6. Flutes & Digeridoos
2. Meditation Cushions Pillows or cushions come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes you are offering the pillows and other times, to save space, you may offer just the pillowcases in your shop. Everyone needs nice pillows. And it’s ok to have a comfortable chair nearby too.
Native American style wooden flutes are usually in a pentatonic scale with only five notes versus the seven notes in a normal musical scale, so playing them is very easy even for non-musicians. A digeridoo is a bit more difficult to play but if one learns circular breathing, the sound created is amazing. continued on page 36
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34 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
7. Drums & Rattles Shamans from all cultures have used drums and rattles to assist in entering a trance state. Sometimes just shaking a rattle in a space or around a person can assist in clearing the energy. Rain sticks are another easy-to-use item to include.
8. Prayer Beads & Rosaries Various religious and meditation practices use beads to ‘count’ their prayers or help them stay focused on a mantra. Eastern religions use a mala with strings of 108 beads. A rosary is usually 5 sets of 10 beads with 9 other beads. They can also be worn as necklaces or bracelets.
9. Chakras Chakras are very popular, and many companies make printed or cloth chakra wall hangings or posters. There are many beautiful chakra banners and charts available. Some focus on the mandalas while others add information about the chakras.
10. Wind Chimes The gentle sound of chimes blown in the wind or touched when passing by can add to the ambiance of the space. Chimes are often included when one is using Feng Shui design to create a sense of flow. continued on page 38
A Seed is a Tiny Miracle ... and So Are You! YOU ARE LIKE A SEED by Michaun Madsen teaches kids to trust their authentic self, knowing that deep inside they already have everything it takes to grow and experience a life of happiness. Children 3+ $14.95 Hardback 24pg 978-087516-902-6
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36 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
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11. Wall Hangings & Artwork
15. Books & Magazines
Having a visual focus is very important when one is setting up an alter or sacred space. Any sacred imagery can be used a visual focal point when one is attempting to clear their mind of the mundane and busyness of life. Saints, gurus, mandalas or images of nature work well.
There are many informative and inspiring books on the topics of sound healing and meditation so by providing selected material in your sacred corner, you will stimulate interest and further study. Display current magazine issues relevant to the theme. Of course, every shop won’t carry all these items, so you can improvise and put together your own altars to match the theme and feeling of your space. It’s all about making it personal and finding a way to create a peaceful place for your customers. We hope you enjoy the process of creating a ‘peace through music’ altar for your customers and in the busy days of the holiday season, please be sure to take a moment yourself to sit and enjoy the sanctuary you have put together. PS If you feel inspired, we would love to see what you have created. You can post a photo of your sound healing altar on our Soundings of the Planet Facebook page and we’ll share it!
12. Salt Lamps & Candles Creating a calm ambiance with subdued lighting is important in preparing a meditative environment. Whether burning scented candles or using a Himalayan salt lamp with its soothing amber glow, the aim is to create a soft and subtle mood.
13. Incense & Sprays Incense has long been used to create a transcendent state. Native Americans burn sage or sweet grass to clear the air. These days, there are many alternatives to burning such as scented sprays that don’t need a flame to utilize.
14. CDs & DVDs We realize people often listen to streaming music these days, but many still want the physical CD in their library. Providing a simple playback system with headphones allows a customer to listen without interfering with what else might be happening in the store. DVDs of nature or sacred imagery are a way to change the energy in the home during the often-chaotic holidays.
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Dudley and her husband, Dean Evenson, are sound healing pioneers and founders of the label Soundings of the Planet. This year they celebrate 40 years of creating Peace Through Music. In addition to their many award-winning music albums and videos, they have written a book called Quieting the Monkey Mind: How to Meditate with Music. Learn more at www. soundings.com
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Is it Time to Close My Shop?
40 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
By Royce Amy Morales
Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 41
wning a retail shop is not an easy job, is it? You opened your store, excited and wide-eyed, you had good years in business, but after years of strategies, branding, planning, management, non-stop work hours, stress, struggles, fear, success, emotions . . . you just ran out of energy. You’re just ready to let go! Things are changing lightning fast in the world of retail with social media channels and new technologies emerging to provide customers “the ultimate experience.” The customer experience is all you hear about everywhere you go. Adding more to your daily routine in order to keep a profitable business, isn’t something you’re sure you’re willing to do at this point in life. Maybe you’ve been thinking for a while to retire for health reasons, to sneak in some relaxation, or you just have other projects in mind. But now you’re torn between giving in or giving up. Independent businesses play a central role in local communities, both economically and emotionally. When people hear that a longtime family-owned business is closing its doors they feel a heart-wrenching personal loss. People might even feel guilty, like they should’ve done more to support your shop (maybe they should have). Besides offering products not available at larger retailers, your store is unique, and it helped
creating a sense of community. But you need to keep in mind that your shop has to be serving you well too.
Giving Up or Giving In If you sense it’s time to close or sell your business, no matter what your reasons, remember: change is not an easy life choice. As an entrepreneur, undoubtedly this isn’t just a business-as-usual for you. Its more
We’ve compiled a list of things to think about and process to help clarify your decision and avoid regret. They’ll also help you to solidify your “now what?” plan if you do decide to close shop. Before you go too far on your own, keep in mind that this is a big decision and you may benefit from the help of business professionals. There are a slew of retail consultants, experts in a wide variety of
Independent businesses play a central role in local communities, both economically and emotionally. When people hear that a longtime family-owned business is closing its doors they feel a heart-wrenching personal loss.
than that – it’s your passion, something that you always wanted. Perhaps you labored to build a business you thought would be your future nest egg security, but maybe it turns out that it’s not.
business such as finance, scientificallybased inventory purchasing and marketing, who just might be able to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out. There might be something you’ve overlooked, some bit of
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advice or wisdom they could impart that could change everything. Most trade shows offer free and low cost seminars that provide invaluable business advice. And, putting it “out there” for Higher Guidance is always a good thing to do. You never know what miracles, clarity or direction might unfold.
Fears About Closing or Not Closing Your Shop Most of us have deep fears about what others may think of us. The truth is, you only feel that way if you let your ego run the show. If in your heart-of-hearts you know you did everything to succeed, then no judgment can affect you. Also, ask yourself these two questions: “Would it really be okay if I closed my shop?” And then: “Would it really be okay if I didn’t close my shop?” Trust your honest answers and then explore them. Make sure to counter any negative notions with a positive truth of some kind.
Make Sure You Aren’t Running Know that you’re making a choice to close from an authentic, intuitive place of trusting that this is the right choice and the right time. There’s a spiritually-based Universal Law that states: anything that’s run from will eventually return in some form. In other words, a karmic boomerang will undoubtedly find you at some point if you’re closing just to avoid something.
Are You in a Rut? So often, businesses close because the owner stopped t r y i n g ne w t h i n g s , lo s t focus on their customers, fell behind the times, lost their initial passion, or just lost hope t hat a ny t hing wou ld ever be different. Maybe your shop just needs a shot of oomph of some kind.
everything, so choose to see it as positive, easy, and lovingly supported. If you don’t feel that way, that’s okay too. Give yourself permission to feel emotions as long as you need to. This is a huge change and it may feel odd. Until it doesn’t. Make sure to visualize how you want your life to look once you close your shop. See yourself in your vision (even if it’s vague) taking your next step, whatever it is, filled with joy.
Inner Surrendering Before your final decision, try doing a little inner-surrendering work. Why? On an energetic level, giving yourself permission to let go (of the struggle, of the idealism, of the need to have your business look a certain way) creates space to allow new thoughts and ideas and opportunities to come in. Often, that’s when better ideas show up, something shifts in the Universe, or even unexpected miracles occur. That process may awaken you to learn what you need to learn to move forward with grace and trust. It’s like letting go of a very wrong-relationship: only then is there space for the right person to arrive.
Before your final decision, try doing a little inner-surrendering work.
Visualize Life Without Your Shop To help add more clarity to your choice, do some visualization work. Imagine what life would look like, feel like and be like if you closed your shop. Know that you are the creator of your reality, how you perceive
NEW Future Possibilities
Instead of thinking about the past, switch your mindset and think about how you can apply your skills in a different way. Maybe
Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 43
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it’s time to do something easy and stress-free, at least for a while (once an entrepreneur, always, right?) Often, past investments of time and resources can make future decisions almost predetermined, so make sure your choices aren’t based on the past. Look for new ideas, new directions. As a trailblazing indie-shop owner, you’re a natural leader, so be that in some way. Don’t let fear hold you back from trying again.
Still Not Sure? If, after checking all the points above, you’re sensing that making some adjustments to your routine or business plan may help you to continue running your shop, here are some suggestions: 1. Reinvent your shop. See if you need to refresh your inventory selection. Are some items behind the times? Maybe add some trendy item to your mix to attract a younger crowd. Find ways to attract new customers by using social media, for instance.
2. Payroll. Take a look at your payroll and see if there are some hours you could cut or even some demotions you can make. If you’re providing a better way of life for employees or a manager than you are for yourself, see what you can do to fix that.
3. Store layout. Are you carrying too much inventory on your sales floor, so things look cramped, not special? Are there items you’ve held onto for far over six months? Have certain items gone stale but you refuse to lower their price? Have a clearance sale so you can focus on what does sell and freshen up inventory. Sentimentality and attachment has no place in a retail shop. And, make sure your sales are infrequent, so you won’t be attracting only bargain hunters. 4. Pricing. Keep in mind that there are always additions to your cost of goods, such as shipping fees, so add that in when pricing.
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44 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
5. Business hours. Are your competitors open and you aren’t? Many small shops still operate only six days a week from 10am to 5pm. Consider extending your business hours so working customers will be able to shop. If you can’t stay late every evening, at least do so on weekends. And, if you must close one day a week, choose Mondays.
6. Shift your marketing, expand your customer base. Reach out to local papers with press releases – you just might get a feature article if you come up with an interesting angle. Get customers’ email addresses and keep them in the loop on promotions, new products, special events, etc. Keep a frequency of posts on social media. Got in a new shipment? Post some pictures!
So often, businesses close because the owner stopped trying new things, lost focus on their customers, fell behind the times, lost their initial passion, or just lost hope that anything would ever be different. Maybe your shop just needs a shot of oomph of some kind.
online. A lways make sure your name, address and phone number are easy to find on your website. The items you sell the most of are what you want to feature in the keywords on your site, as well as in the names of the individual pages (the more pages the better for coming up in searches). Always attach fine names and descriptions to photos so they come up in searches. Even if you don’t want to go all out offering a full shopping cart option on your site, add at least a few best-selling, easy-to-stock items to sell online. You’ll reach so many more customers that way. 8. Product display. In a small specialty shop, each piece of merchandise is curated and needs to look special to sell. If items are crowded together, piled without care, everything in your shop is cheapened. Perceived value is truth. Look at your displays with a critical eye and see if there’s room for improvement.
9. Do you have an attitude about selling? If you feel that salesmanship is being pushy, change your perception. You are providing an important and lost art: true, caring, customer service. After this brief evaluation to help clarify your decision, remember to trust your intuition and the Universe – he knows what it’s doing (even if you don’t, sometimes). Royce Amy Morales is the founder of Perfect Life Awakening. Morales is also a transpersonal development speaker and author of Know: A spiritual wake-up call. Royce was an independent retailer for two decades in Redondo Beach, CA. To know more about the author, visit her page at www.perfectlifeawakening.com.
7. Are customers finding your store? Make sure your website is SEO (search engine optimized) by having a specialist help add keywords and phrases that can get you a higher Google ranking. Unless everyone comes in because they’re in the area, online search is the number one tool to help get people in the door even if you aren’t selling
Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 45
[ Editor's Picks ] GIFT IDEAS FOR VALENTINE’S DAY
A Message fr om t he
During Valentine’s Day, we celebrate LOVE through affection and appreciation – a genuine action that can be expressed by many through kindness, messages, and gifts!
1. Heart Necklace, Krista Bermeo Studio www.kristabermeostudio.com | 2. Paper Hearts Garland by Sugarboo & Co. www.sugarbooandco.com | 3. Heart Cards by Sugarboo & Co. www.sugarbooandco.com | 4. Two Birds Stitched Pillow by Sugarboo & Co. www.sugarbooandco.com | 5. Vegan Heart Box of Truffles by RX Missionary Chocolates www.missionarychocolates.com.
46 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
6. Norah Candle by Hyggelight Candles-The Growing Candle www.thegrowingcandle.com | 7. Small Candle by Sugarboo & Co. www.sugarbooandco.com | 8. Will You Be Mine Greeting Card by PAPAYA www.papayaart.com | 9. Pearl Heart Lapel Pin by Marang Studios www.marangstudios.com | 10. Crazy Sexy Love Notes Card Decks + Mobile App by Hay House www.hayhouse.com | 11. LOVE Hamsa Ceramic Wall Art by Ceramystica | 12. Prayer Beads by Sugarboo & Co. www.sugarbooandco.com | 13. Heart Thoughts Cards by Hay House www.hayhouse.com.
Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 47
fineprint For book enthusiasts interested in ASTROLOGY, DIVINATION, RITUALS & MAGICK, AND INTUITION the titles we selected for November-December are ideal if you’re looking to renew energy, add a touch of balance to daily routine, encourage life goals, and help to get the mind ready for the forthcoming year. Read on to learn more!
NEW RELEASES Born Under a Good Sign: Make the Most of Your Astrological Sign Kristy Robinett Llewellyn Worldwide I www.llewellyn.com Publication Date: November 2019 ISBN: 9780738757162 Pages: 240 I Price: $16.99
Set yourself up for better relationships and a bright future with Born Under a Good Sign, the uncomplicated guide to astrological sun signs. This book strips away the woo-woo and technical charts, leaving only the most useful and clear information on how to deal with each sun sign’s traits and tendencies. With sensible and tongue-in-cheek explanations, Kristy Robinett provides everything you need to understand the larger impacts of the signs. She delves into the masculine and feminine energy of each one and reveals how to handle difficult situations that arise with partners, parents, children, and others. Providing essential information that isn’t limited to any particular year, Born Under a Good Sign is perfect for improving your life and relationships. The Rituals: Simple Practices to Cultivate Well-Being, Deepen Relationships, and Discover Your True Purpose Natalie MacNeil Chronicle Books I www.chroniclebooks.com Publication Date: November 2019 ISBN: 9781452180670 Pages: 160 I Price: $19.95
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Uplifting & Inspiring NEW Books on Conscious Living Compiled by the editor
This stirring collection presents spiritual rituals from around the world and offers guidance on bringing the powerful practices into modern life. Filled with fascinating details on the history and meaning behind a wide range of sacred rituals for love, awareness, joy, and so much more, this timeless handbook guides readers through more than 40 empowering practices, including a candlelight ritual for renewal, a soothing ritual for unwinding, an a tea ceremony for fostering connection and gratitude. Spellwork for Self-Care: 40 Spells to Soothe the Spirit Potter Gift, Illustrated by Monica Ramos Penguim Random House www.penguinrandomhouse.com Publication Date: December 2019 ISBN: 9788854415157 Pages: 128 I Price: $12.99
For those who want to infuse their self-care routine with a little magic, this mystical guidebook provides readers with simple spells to enhance their daily lives. Topics range from relationships and emotional health to self-love, work, school, and more. Spellwork for Self-Care takes an old-fashioned approach to the practice of self-soothing. As young people flock to the well-worn paths tread by the witches of yore by using tarot cards readings, astrological sign analysis, and herbal home remedies for mental and physical ailments, the practice of witchcraft has morphed into a form of spirituality for Millennials and Generation Z. This book of 40 spells combines witchy spiritual practices with our culture’s hunger for self-care, creating a compact resource for those seeking alternate paths to better mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health.
COMING SOON Positive Magic: A Toolkit for the Modern Witch Marion Weinstein, Foreword by Judika Illes Red Wheel-Weiser Books www.redwheelweiser.com Publication Date: January 2020 ISBN: 9781578636822 Pages: 312 I Price: US$18.95
A new edition of one of the best-loved introductions to magic that is still used in metaphysical classes around the world. The author makes ancient magic techniques accessible, offering them as practical tools for daily life. Addressing the needs of today’s readers – beginners and adepts alike – the author provides wellresearched historical background on astrology, witchcraft, tarot, and the I Ching as well as channeling, spirit contact, and the connections between quantum physics and traditional magic.
Intentional Tarot: Using the Cards with Purpose Denise Hesselroth Llewellyn Worldwide I www.llewellyn.com Publication Date: January 2020 ISBN: 9780738762579 Pages: 264 I Price: US$17.99
This book provides everything you need to learn how to interpret the card and actively engage with your life’s purpose. You’ll learn how to read tarot and use that knowledge to develop your own style and intention. Hesselroth shows you that divination is only the first step – once you have the facts, what will you do with them? Using innovative techniques and spreads, Intentional Tarot helps you get off book while doing readings and adds a proactive element to your practice. This book also provides the tools you need to identify the traditional reading methods that work best for you, develop your personal style, and use the cards to take action for a fulfilling and successful future.
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Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 49
Reviews of Great Music to Sell and Enjoy by Bill Binkelman
Todd Mosby Self-released www.toddmosbymusic.com
Michael Huygenâ€™s Neuronium Domo Records www.domomusicgroup.com
Nancy Rumbel, David Michael & Benjy Wertheimer Purnima Production www.purnimaproductions.com
Other than the opening track, Open Waters is the most jazz-inf luenced release from Imaginary Road Studios. A breezy concoction of tunes that elicits the titular nature of everything from a tropical beach to the open ocean, guitarist Mosby, along with a truly stellar cast of accompanying artists, whisks the listener away to a variety of soundscapes which evoke assorted visions, all of them water-related. The evocation throughout is one of smooth sailing, sunny skies, gentle breezes, and an all-encompassing feeling of well-being as the smooth melodies waft away the cares and concerns of the listener.
Keyboardist Michael Huygen has been making electronic music for over 40 years (and has released over 40 albums, both with his group, Neuronium, as well as solo and as collaborations with others). Astute fans of the electronic music genre will detect a myriad of similarities between his music and other icons of the genre who got their start at the same time: Vangelis, Larry Fast (Synergy), the late Michael Garrison, and the artists in the Berlin school of EM. Essentialia presents 14 hand-picked tracks by Huygen spanning his amazing career and featuring his many musical facets, from lush orchestral soundscapes to high energy beats and everything in-between. All tracks are re-mastered for this album as well.
You canâ€™t bring together three artists with the talents of Nancy Rumbel, David Michael, and Benjy Wertheimer (assisted by folks like Michael Mandrell and Steve Gorn, among others) and get anything less than musical brilliance, which is what Confluence is, i.e. brilliantly executed world-influenced fusion music that crisscrosses Influences much like the titular reference to the joining together of bodies of water. At turns vibrant, sensual, and pensive, these artists wend their musical magic together as if weaving a fabric of disparate yet complementary colors into a tapestry that yields a beautiful whole. Confluence is a work of consummate artistry.
continued on page 52
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Sangeeta Kaur Sangeeta Kaur Music www.sangeetakaurmusic.com
David Wahler Self-released www.davidwahler.com
It is said of some actors with great voices that they could read the phone book and transfix the listener. The same is true for Sangeeta Kaur, so amazing are her vocal talents. However, it’s not just her singing (whether mantras, wordless, or English lyrics) that elevates Compassion into the stratosphere of vocal recordings. Kaur is joined by some amazingly talented guest artists and all are beautifully supported by the Hungarian Studio Orchestra and Choir. I literally got chills on the first track “Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha” owing to the Kaur’s expressive vocals, the orchestra, and the soaring choir’s voices. Compassion is a richly textured listening experience, with a dizzying amount of musical variety, all tied together by one of the best singing voices I have ever heard.
David Wahler explores the many moods of love and romanticism on Two Hearts, displaying not just his artistry across an assortment of moods and tempos, but his skill at layering his wonderfully melodic keyboards and piano, meshing them into his own unique vision of classic new age music. Most of the 11 songs are soothing and warm, perfect for relaxation or quiet times with a loved one. Some tracks feature muted, but perceptible chilled beats (which Whaler has come to excel at), e.g. “Paris Rain,” and “Night Sky of Orion-Remix.” “One Fine Day” sparkles with a slightly faster tempo, while “Love Lost” is appropriately somber. David Wahler just keeps getting better with every release.
Into the Blue
Paul Avgerinos Round Sky Music www.roundskymusic.com
Michael Joseph Michael Joseph Music www.michael-joseph.net
Paul Avgerinos (guitar, bass, keyboards, drum and percussion programming) invited some of the top chant artists in the world (including Jai Uttal, Krishna Das, Wah!, and Donna DeLory) to take the genre and spin it into something fresh, new, and exciting. Devotion is a celebration of chant set against a funky, contemporary, and energizing backdrop of chill out melodies and infectious beats of assorted tempos. That may sound like what some other artists have done in the past, but to my ears, Avgerinos has dialed the chill/beat factor up to “10.” These are toe-tapping, finger-snapping tunes which just happen to also be Sanskrit mantras. In short, this album is a blast!
Into the Blue is pianist/keyboardist Michael Joseph’s debut instrumental recording and it’s a solid, and solidly entertaining, album, showcasing his composing and performing skills on the release’s 13 songs. Much of the music combines a flowing melodicism with romantic evocations, with Joseph’s piano buoyed by a variety of keyboard orchestrations and sampled instruments. The music also displays the artist’s affinity for neo-classical motifs. Some pieces move the music into dramatic waters, while others paint a more subdued picture. The future appears bright for Joseph as he seems to have a strong grasp on crafting melodic hooks.
Bill Binkelman has been reviewing New Age, ambient, and world music since 1997. Email him at email@example.com.
52 November/December 2019 | retailinginsight.com
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A new approach to powerful pain and stress relief, energy balancing, and healing for the body, mind, and soul. Practitioner Body Mats are for professional treatments & intense personal use. Personal and Mini Body Mats for yoga, meditation, and home healing. NEW Little Lotus Mats for healing while sitting at a desk chair or driving! The Body Mat, LLC 208-719-0175 l firstname.lastname@example.org www.thebodymat.com
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Each wave brings you closer like driftwood seeking the shore. The new Waves & Driftwood collection blends aromas of salty ocean breeze, warm amber and driftwood. Available in award-winning natural formulas lotion, liquid cleanser, and soy wax candle. Made in USA. Free samples. B.Witching Bath Co. 833-330-2284 I firstname.lastname@example.org www.bwitchingbathco.com
Esprit Creations 352-316- 6130 I espritcreations.com www.espritcreations.com Winter Markets | retailinginsight.com 53
5 Ways to Keep an Eco-Friendly Business by Royce Amy Morales
If you’re making the effort to go “green” in your shop, you may be facing a few new problems, such as how to recycle burned-out, compact fluorescent bulbs; what to do with endless mounds of Styrofoam popcorn; or determining who’s products are truly healthy for the planet. There’s a whole new world to explore! It feels good to be ‘the change’ for customers, but oodles of eco-choices and vague information can be confusing. Don’t worry. By focusing on four key areas – merchandise selection, recycling, store décor and design, and marketing, you’ll find your eco initiatives can be manageable.
Green Inventory: What makes something truly healthy for the planet vs. the many faux green products infiltrating the marketplace still has some debate surrounding it and may be up to interpretation. Here’s a down-to-earth definition: something that causes less harm to any aspect of the planet, whether in its creation, use, delivery, or disposal than its comparable counterpart. There are products made with recycled, re-used, re-purposed or post-consumer content, those utilizing organic materials, and those incorporating renewable resources. Green products often use materials that are biodegradable, meaning they decompose and break down in a reasonable amount of time. Items should be made in an earth-conscious manner, keeping in mind their manufacture, shipping, and even packaging. Social conditions and trade practices that don’t harm people are also certainly green issues. Often, what makes something green in one category can make it less green in another. For example, some items that have a high recycled content may not be great in terms of toxicity levels. It might be a challenge for store owners who are eco-friendly with a commitment to wanting it all, but as a shop owner you can pick and choose the level and type of earth friendliness that works for you, expanding as you go greener. Honestly, there’s no reason to not choose green since now-a-days there are eco conscious alternatives for just about all your inventory selections. Talk to your vendors to see what’s available, ask them questions to make sure there’s no “greenwashing” behind the scenes.
Proper Disposal: Be concerned with recycling, reducing, repurposing, and redirecting everything your business uses. With luck, your community has a recycling program. If not, contact your local government to implement one. If you aren’t sure if something is recyclable, for example, compact fluorescent bulbs (mercury sealed in their glass tubing), ask your municipal solid waste agency or take them to a household hazardous waste event. In the specific case of compact fluorescent bulbs, many large home supply stores have special bins to drop them off in for free. Styrofoam popcorn is still not recyclable. So, save it in large trash bags and donate it to your local pack-and-ship store. They might be so appreciative that they’ll give you shipping discounts! If your shop does lots of shipping, choose the kind of packing material that dissolves in water.
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Eco-Design Choices: If you’re planning some interior changes, make sure to use low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compound), non-toxic paint. Find creative floor solutions such as simply polishing cement or installing sustainable bamboo flooring. For area rugs, jute, sisal, or hemp rugs are sturdy and ecologically respectable choices. A top priority should be changing lighting to CFLs (compact florescent) or even better, LED. In both cases, although pricier than incandescent bulbs, the energy saved will more than return that investment. Plus, they emit less heat, so the air conditioning bills will dramatically drop (just one degree of difference can save hundreds of dollars each year). Today’s CFLs and LEDs are offered in a variety color temperatures or tones, so select what works best with your store layout and design.
Go Paperless: Using social media as a marketing tool rather than post cards is a definite earth-friendly choice. Think of the gas and electricity you and your customers are saving with a shopping cart capable website. Besides, ‘green customers’ will prefer to get news updates, check store information, and more, on their mobile devices. Consistently educate customers by blogging and posting, showing that green choices are ultimately more affordable in the long run than their harmful counterparts.
Let Customers Know Your Store is ‘Green’: Being green is a great marketing tool to let customers know your store cares about the planet. Let people know that your store cares about the environment and sustainable practices by providing education in palatable, fun ways. Here are some creative ways to spread the word about your “green business”: a) Print your store logo on organic cotton tote bags. They become walking, everlasting billboards. b) Send out press releases to local newspapers touting your carbon footprint reductions. Create catchy headlines and human interest angles for a “cause marketing” story. An eco-accomplishment you think is no big deal might trigger a feature story. Don’t forget to include photos. c) Plan a “Green Day Celebration” or an “Earth Day” event, enticing customers with special rewards if they bike or walk. Have some creative eco-contests like a green scavenger hunt; plant an edible garden in the neighborhood; give away plant bulbs; have a veggie chili cook-off; host a wellness class, or consider any number of other Earthfriendly activities to show your support of our planet and nature.
Royce Amy Morales is the founder of Perfect Life Awakening. Morales is also a transpersonal development speaker and author of Know: A spiritual wake-up call. Royce was an independent retailer for two decades in Redondo Beach, CA. To know more about the author, visit her page at www. perfectlifeawakening.com.
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