Do you know why I love retail? If you know me, you know that I have worked in retail for the past 4 decades (I have been saying 3 decades and then realized that somehow it turned 4 in 2021). After wanting to be a prosecuting attorney, retail seemed like an odd place to land. I was 16 years old and working for a “mom and pop” brands. I was smitten. Loved the pace, loved the fashion, loved the customers.
The love affair continued as I moved from small boutiques to mega brands. If you work in retail, you get it. It gets in your blood and you can’t imagine doing anything else. It has been many years since I have worked in a store, spending 20 years in corporate and now owning my own company. But today, well today I was like a kid working in a candy store.
As a consultant, I help retailers run great stores. But what I witnessed today is pure genius. Creating a compelling assortment and experience is Elizabeth’s native genius.
Elizabeth is the founder and owner of Green Velvet (& my little sister). She curates amazing collections all year long. But at holiday, it is even more remarkable. There aren’t floorset documents or maps. It is all in her head. She sees the store done before she even starts it. Her vision drives her buying decisions down to every last inventory item, prop, even supplies. It is all staged in the basement of her store. She closes for 5 days and literally the store becomes an incredible holiday experience filled with all the things you want without ever realizing you wanted them. Her store makes a lasting impression on everyone who walks in.
Prep for the Holiday Install.
Today was prep day. If you work in retail, you know how critical it is to be totally prepared before the big install starts. The first task was to pack up fall. It was tempting to want to do other things as we went, but the gift i bring to Elizabeth is operations. We had to do the work sequentially in order to be super efficient. The timer is set and the clock starts ticking. The store has to be 100% ready by 5pm Thursday to open for the big unveiling. There will be lines down Broadway to get into the store.
Elizabeth recently met Grace of Grace K Designs. She creates visual displays that make you feel like you stepped onto a movie set. If you live in the Columbus area, you have seen her work at Easton Town Center. Huge floral installations all over the center. While we were working inside the store, Grace and her mom were working outside creating the magic that captures the essence of Green Velvet.
Elizabeth has a Gingerbread House theme for her front windows this year. Grace made these ornaments by hand to match the theme and installed it on an incredible array of greenery and berries around the exterior of the store entrance. Talk about an instagram moment. People walking by were snapping photos like paparazzi hoping to recreate it at their home. Her dad nearly ate one thinking they were her delicious decorated cookies!
Batch those Tasks.
While Elizabeth is gifted at buying and merchandising, my native genius is operations. It was fun to connect both parts into one. We batched the tasks and got more done than we thought was possible. After fall was packed away, we placed fixtures. We cleaned. Then we placed christmas trees. Oh the christmas trees. So many to assemble, fluff, light and place. Trash to haul out.
Operational Excellence Makes a Difference.
What really made today so effective was the constant focus on completing a task at a time. It is so tempting to want to stop and do something else that is more fun than what you are doing, it is planning your work and working your plan that wins every time.
You know I like to share tips to help my retail freinds:
- Have snacks and water available.
- Prep the backroom area to house items that need to be packed away
- Stage supplies so you aren’t wasting time looking for things.
- Talk to the team about what needs to be accomplished. Setting goals makes a difference.
- Do time checks. It keeps people on task.
- Focus on doing what ONLY YOU CAN DO and delegate the rest.
- Stay FOCUSED. Don’t get tempted to start a new task before the current task is done.
- Clean up as you go.
Be My Guest.
I want to invite you to be my guest at the grand unveiling of Green Velvet’s Holiday 2021 at 130 East Broadway, Granville, OH this Thursday, November 4 at 5pm – 8pm. It will be one of the highlights of your holiday season.