From The Co-Founders


Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts

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Don't you feel that we're in a period of heightened uncertainty? 

Whether it's the economy, or unemployment, or grocery prices, or sports resuming, or the weather, or racial tensions, or the costs  of everything, or the questions coming at us from family and employees that we cannot answer, everything seems uncertain, doesn't it? And there is no end in sight.

But...we as retailers can be leaders in our communities and in our  daily lives. We have the opportunity to tamp down some of those uncertainties.

Look at this sign a local merchant posted.

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As your stores are able to re-open after the coronavirus shutdowns, how they look tells a powerful story. And for you, a great opportunity.

This is no time to try to go back to normal, back to business-as-usual. Nor to simply have all kinds of protective shields in your store. While necessary, how welcoming is that?

Instead, this actually IS a second chance to make a good first impression! Take full advantage!

There are three "pandemics" assailing us at the moment: the coronavirus; the economic collapse; the protests of racial injustice. The three months plus of stay at home restrictions and the shutdowns, and the confluence of these three pandemics has been a heavy burden. And it shows no signs of going away anytime soon.

As the coronavirus continues to spread and surge (Apple re-closing 11 stores they had recently re-opened is a sobering reminder), the uncertainty and anxiety is only being prolonged.


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We believe there are not one, but three(!) pandemics occurring simultaneously right now. Of course, the COVID-19 virus elevated the word "pandemic" to a status that identifies even a generation of babies. 

But the other two pandemics are equally paralyzing: the nationwide (even worldwide) protests of racial injustice, and the severe unemployment from the economic collapse. 

Indeed, three concurrent, worldwide sinkholes. We call it the "pandemic trifecta of 2020."

So, what's an intelligent retailer to think now?!

Here's one idea that we believe can help you have more confidence in your immediate decisions. Think beyond this week and this month. 

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As more stores are able to reopen, and more shoppers are willing to emerge, what will they encounter?

  • "A glut of pent-up inventory is waiting to be dumped on consumers this summer as retail stores reopen in the U.S., and shoppers for everything from shoes to sofas should be able to find major bargains," reported the Wall Street Journal* on June 2.

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YOU are the leader we need now!

Most of the people who receive our weekly newsletter from The Retail Owners Institute® are either owners of stores (duh...) or work with retail owners, not only in America but around the world.

When you think about it, owners and senior management of retail businesses are looked upon as leaders everyday, by employees, by suppliers, by customers, by their families and often by the media. You are community builders. 

Amidst this pandemic, your leadership is more vital than ever.

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Like every natural disaster, whether a massive storm, earthquake, wildfire, we all are victims of COVID-19. 

Not all of us have suffered being infected by the virus. But, essentially everybody has suffered losses. 

  • The loss of milestone celebrations of weddings, graduations, reunions, birthdays; anniversaries;
  • Lost access to theaters, museums, libraries, sporting events;
  • Loss of the sense of community that comes from going to work, or worship services, book clubs, or the local coffee shop; 
  • Loss of income, job losses;
  •  Or, sadly, the loss of loved ones. 

Few have been spared. 

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A few years ago, during a planning session in our office, we drew a quick diagram on a whiteboard. It showed three shapes. 

  • The large rectangle at the top was labeled "What we COULD do" Lots of good ideas deserved a place in this box!
  • The much smaller rectangle below it was labeled "What  we SHOULD do" Ahh yes, those pesky obligations. 
  • And finally, at the bottom, was a tiny little square: "What we WILL do!" 

Out of all of the potential things we could do, which ones truly warrant our time, energy, and resources?

That picture keeps coming to mind as the COVID-19 shutdown orders on retailers of "non-essential" goods are starting to be lifted.