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A view of the industry through the eyes of independent and chain retailers.

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Hey There! Hi There! Oh There!

How a day at Disney can make you a better retailer.

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (June 1, 2009)

Our country is so generationally diverse, and this 

When you head out to Orlando this July for the CHA Summer Show, make sure to schedule some time at Walt Disney World, "The Happiest Place on Earth!" We spend a day there every time we find ourselves anywhere near Orlando.

We really admire Walt Disney because he really got it right. Disney didn't open a theme park just to open a theme park; his dream had a deep, philosophical goal: that entertainment wasn't a luxury, but a necessity for a productive life. (Sounds a lot like crafting, doesn't it?) He said, "Disneyland is a work of love. We didn't go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money." He also said, "You don't work for a dollar, you work to create and have fun." We're certain his logic strikes a familiar chord.

If you look very closely, you can see Disney's many loving touches throughout Walt Disney World. Brand touches. And this was no easy task, considering that Disney never saw the completed Walt Disney World. The story goes that as Disney lay in the hospital on his death bed, he described his plans for the Florida Magic Kingdom to his brother Roy by pointing out locations on a ceiling tile ("The theme park goes here, EPCOT goes there …") Roy came out of retirement to see that Walt's dream came true.

Sometimes the best ideas come to you in the most unlikely places. Walt Disney World does that for us – the last time we were there we filled four pages before we even left Main Street! Check out Disney's attention to detail and how each can translate to your own business.

As you approach the front gates of the Magic Kingdom, you are hit with the incredible colors and smells of thousands of flowers, and Disney songs playing in the background. It's the guest's first 10 seconds of interaction that builds the perception they carry with them into the park. That tiny amount of time makes a lasting impression.

(Go outside and look at your front door – right now. What's the customers' first impression of your store?)

Main Street is on a slight incline, rising up towards Cinderella Castle. It's not noticeable to guests entering the park for a day of fun, but they're grateful for that downhill walk to the monorail at the end of a long day, even if they don't realize it's there.

(Have you installed that ramp outside yet to help customers haul their wheeled carts up and over the curb and into your store? Inside, are there places a customer can just sit and rest for a moment?)

If you look very closely, you will notice that the shops on Main Street get slightly smaller the closer you get to Cinderella Castle, making it loom even larger than it really is.

(In retail language, this is called a "sight line." You can do a sight line like Disney's in your store, but you'll need to reverse it. The fixtures in your store should start out shorter and get gradually taller towards the rear of the store. If you want customers to see your entire store from the front door, this is the way to go.)

Look up at the shop windows and you will see the names of businesses and business people painted on the glass. Like the opening credits in a movie, this is Disney's tribute to the people who helped build The Magic Kingdom. Take a close look as you leave as well because you'll see closing credits too, including one for Walt himself.

(You can do opening credits, too. Line your front windows with all of the cool things that you sell and all the wonderful services that you offer. Begin at the upper left hand corner and list your products and services in reflective, bright white 4" letters. Do this around the entire perimeter of each window – it's okay to repeat!)

We visited Disney World just days after former President Ronald Reagan had passed away. We noticed the American flags outside of The Magic Kingdom were at half-staff. Inside the park, the flags on top of the Main Street shops were all at full-staff. Thinking we found a flaw, we asked a shop manager why these flags were not at half-staff as well. He explained that inside the gates of The Magic Kingdom, the outside world is, well, left outside. No matter what's happening in your personal life, or the world at large, Disney World will always be a happy place where you can check your troubles at the front gate.

(Disney carefully safeguards the guest experience inside the park by making sure that experience is a direct reflection of the Disney brand. Similarly, the ambiance inside your store is a reflection of its – and your – personality. Can customers check their troubles at your front door? Is the customer experience in your store a happy one where they can create to their heart's content?)

In Disney's world, customers are not customers, they are guests. We like that. Aren't the people who come to your store each day really guests? Shouldn't they be welcomed with the same courtesy that you welcome a guest in your own home? We think so, and from this point on, we've decided to refer to customers as guests. We think you should, too.

The bronze "Partners" statue that sits in a courtyard in front of Cinderella Castle depicts Walt Disney holding Mickey Mouse's hand, his other hand pointing off into the distance. The caption on the plaque is in Disney's own words, describing why he built his Magic Kingdoms: "I think most of all what I want Disneyland to be is a happy place where parents and children can have fun together."

That about sums it up … and isn't that really why we all got into this business in the first place?

Great news! In addition to the party "The Craft & Hobby Association Celebrates a Night at Epcot®" on Wednesday, July 29, CHA has made arrangements with Disney to offer specially-priced afternoon tickets for CHA attendees. We've spoken in Orlando hundreds of times over the past 19 years and we've never seen a discounted Disney ticket. Visit https://www.chashow.org for more information.

Upcoming Seminars.

1. TNNA Show, Indianapolis. "Creating Connections: Straight Forward Solutions for Uncertain Times," Sun., June 14, 6:45 pm. (Open to all needlearts groups.) Visit www.tnna.org. The session is open to all needlework groups.

2. CHA Summer Show, Orlando.

A."4th Quarter Calendar: EVERYTHING You Need to Run In-Store Events that Build Sales!" Mon., July 27, 2:00-3:00 pm. Business Seminar S103

B. "Retail Rescue: How to Find Opportunity in Tough Economic Times," Tues., July 28, 12:00-1:00 pm. Business Seminar S106

C. "Stories of Triumph & Success: Meet Successful Independent Retailers and Learn What They Do Right!" Wed., July 29: 12:00-1:00 pm. Business Seminar S112. Visit www.chashow.org.

(Note: Professional speakers, authors, and consultants, Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are nationally recognized experts on customer diversity, marketing & promotion, and everything that affects and interacts with consumers in the retail environment. Each year Kizer & Bender speak to thousands through their "Retail Adventures in the REAL World™" keynotes and seminars. Their unique consumer insights are widely featured in the media, including the ABC National News special report, "How Stores Hook You." Their book, Champagne Strategies on a Beer Budget!, has helped thousands of retailers improve their bottom line, and their "Retail Adventures™" Blog is visited by tens of thousands of readers each month. In 2004 they were named two of the "Most Influential People in Retail Today," and their popular magazine column, "Georganne & Rich on the Road," won the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) Award of Excellence in 2004 and again in 2006.

You'll find thousands of strategies, tactics, tips. and techniques to help you grow your business on their Retail Adventures™ blog: www.kizerandbender.blogspot.com. They mean it when they say to call if you want to talk about your store. They know how tough it is right now, and they're happy to brainstorm ideas with you – they want you to succeed! To read previous articles by Rich and Georganne, click on the titles in the right-hand column.).




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