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United We Stand (to Increase Sales)

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Over 40 people showed up to the Acher House to hear Bruce Schwartau of the University of Minnesota Extension Service discuss strategies for small store success in an increasingly competitive retail marketplace.

He opened his presentation with findings from customer surveys that have been conducted in other small towns throughout Minnesota. He compared the retailers' view of their businesses with that of their customers' views. He pointed out that many retailers make assumptions about their customers that are not always accurate.

Bruce suggested that marketing is one area of merchandising that most retailers are weakest. He suggested "shopping" the low cost competitors to better focus and price your products. As many of those retailers present this morning already know, the smaller stores can often most effectively compete on quality and service or product selection and staff knowledge.


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Bruce also suggested that Northfield could get more leverage out of the trememdous asset that our downtown provides our retailers. He suggested that downtown Northfield provides one of Minnesota's most pleasant shopping experiences. We should cooperatively market it as such.

Of course, Bruce reminded folks about having consistent hours. Afterwards, he said if we could get 80% of the attendees to commit to doing something different or new to increase sales for the downtown district, it would be considered a great accomplishment.

Nov. 10 update: Here's the PDF of Bruce's Small Stores Succss Strategies PowerPoint outline. Click to view it with your web browser or right-click to download it to your PC.