A view of the industry through the
eyes of a chain buyer.
Foil Those "Five-Fingered
How to guard against shoplifting.
by Roger St. Germain, Open Page Wholesalers (October
The excitement of planning for and launching a new business
generates a positive experience. To introduce a negative thought
into this environment is counterintuitive but very necessary. You
can be doing everything right in your business, but still go
bankrupt if you do not prevent theft! Not a pleasant thought and one
most scrapbook storekeepers find hard to accept.
"My customers wouldn't steal from me!!!" Yes they will.
A storeowner confirmed this by describing her experience. One of
her main sources of business is a senior's home near her store. To
her utter amazement, she determined some of these seniors were
pocketing her merchandise.
The perception must be created that the customers can be seen at
all times. This is accomplished by ensuring sightlines from the
checkout counter, where you typically have staff much of the time,
and are such that all expensive merchandise is visible.
Cardstock, totes, large items or any merchandise that could not
be easily pocketed can be at the back of the store or behind
displays, but embellishments, tools and all higher priced
merchandise should be near or behind the checkout area.
The owner of a large store in Ontario, Canada, noticed a customer
wearing a floor-length coat and pushing a stroller. The owner
thought she saw items in the shopper's hands but then did not see
the items back on the shelf as she moved along. After some time, the
shopper announced she needed to take her baby out to the car to
change its diaper. The storeowner called the police. The shopper had
over $1,000 of stolen merchandise in her car. She would have
returned to the store to continue stealing had the storeowner not
intervened. In relating the incident to other area storeowners, it
became known that this shopper had been in several scrapbook stores
in the greater Toronto area. It is safe to assume she had relieved
these stores of considerable merchandise as well.
Staff should walk the store constantly as part of their customer
service function. Soft-soled shoes, which allow them to walk
silently, will put a thief off as well. Concave mirrors
strategically positioned to permit a sightline to otherwise
invisible areas will deter thieves.
Inexpensive surveillance systems are available that will include
several cameras and software for those images to be displayed on
your computer monitor. Positioning the monitor so customers can see
a surveillance system is in place will let thieves know they are
A scrapbook store took the idea of positioning mirrors to heart,
but rather than using concave mirrors, positioned 3- by- 8-foot
mirrors on the walls so they looked to be part of the décor.
In fact, they were located to provide sightlines required.
On a visit to another store, I commented to the owner that her
store layout was ill conceived.
She was shocked at my suggestion that her customers could and
would steal from her. Two days later she caught a customer stealing.
In fact, they had been stealing all along. The owner's awareness had
simply been raised so that she now is watchful.
Remember to budget for shrinkage. Your diligence in theft
prevention will minimize that expense but you can't eliminate it
completely. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
(Note: Roger St. Germain is the founder of Open Page
Wholesalers in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Reprinted by permission
of the Professional Scrapbook Retailers Organization (PSRO) – a
PMA Member Association. For more "PSRO Business Briefs"
A 12-month trial membership is $50.)