Retail Observer

November 2020

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM NOVEMBER 2020 54 O n July 4, 1872, in a small hamlet in upstate Vermont, a boy named John was born into a middle-class family of independent retailers. His mother and father were farmers who also owned the local general store and post office in Vermont's rolling Green Mountain range. Going back generations, John's family had been part of the local fabric of Plymouth Notch since before the town had a name. As a boy, he had little ambition outside of being an honest and hardworking small-town business owner like his father before him. Although a quiet child, John was exposed to the principles of hard work and humility, earning a reputation as a dutiful overseer of his family's businesses. John would eventually leave the family business to practice law, but the lessons of his youth made a lasting impression and formed the foundation of his character for the remainder of his life. On August 2, 1923 John was urgently awakened in the early hours of the morning – then-President Warren Harding had died of cardiac arrest the night before in San Francisco. John's father, a justice of the peace and public notary, brought the family Bible and presented it to his son. A man of few words and fanfare, President John Calvin Coolidge was sworn in at 2:47 a.m. by candlelight and promptly returned to bed. Coolidge would guide America into a period of economic boom, ushering in the Roaring Twenties while passing extensive tax reforms and helping rebuild a wounded American economy after the disaster of the Great War. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR US TODAY Fresh off several scandals, and faced with an administration that was rife with corruption, Coolidge saw the path forward through investing in the preservation and strength of the American economy. He was focused on the future of the American economy, just as we need to focus on the future of retail business in 2021 and beyond. If you're like me, you're exhausted from reading every dissection and look-back in recent months. Undoubtedly COVID-19 has changed our retail landscape, but I do not believe COVID-19 introduced new problems; it just served to shine a spotlight on pre-existing challenges. Independent retailers didn't suddenly start having issues with finding and retaining employees; it's always been a challenge. Independent retailers didn't suddenly struggle to get their fair share of inventory compared to national retail; it's always been difficult. Independent retailers weren't suddenly leagues behind their national competition with regard to digital marketing and e-commerce; it's been a growing problem for years. As Coolidge was focused on making investments in the economy of the 1920s to prepare for the needs of the future, today's retailers must strive to make investments in their business now, so they'll be prepared for whatever fresh challenges 2021 might bring. For some of you, investing in your business means ensuring your digital marketing plan is sound and that it's delivering the results you deserve. For others it will be to hire and build a bench of talented employees, deploy digital price tags, or perhaps even open new locations or add new categories to their existing business. Whatever path presents itself as the best long-term opportunity for your business, I implore you to act now, if for no other reason than to be able to look back next year, or the year after, or sometime in the distant future and say your actions helped you weather new storms and face new challenges and allowed you to afford the improvements of tomorrow. In closing, I'll share a quote from President Coolidge. When pressed to explain how he planned to accomplish his agenda despite the headwinds of the Great War, corruption, the Spanish Flu and countless other challenges, he said: "I have found it advisable not to give too much heed to what people say when I am trying to accomplish something of consequence. Invariably they proclaim it can't be done – I deem that the very best time to make the effort." Lee McDonald Consumer Electronic Trends Lee McDonald, Director of Consumer Electronics, Nationwide Marketing Group RO FOCUSING ON THE FUTURE – RETAIL LIFE AFTER COVID-19 "Economy is the method by which we prepare today to afford the improvements of tomorrow." — Calvin Coolidge

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